110 photographs : b&w and col. (hand-tinted) ; 51 x 41 cm or smaller
6 architectural drawings : 70 x 36 or smaller
The Folks Farein, also known as the Hebrew National Association, was established in 1914 by a group of Toronto Jewish immigrants as a society dedicated to anti-missionary and educational outreach. They were first located at 23 Cecil Street and moved to 37 Cecil Street around 1940.
In the early years of the Folks Farein's existence, Christian missions and a number of Jewish converts to Christianity sought to exploit the situation of poor Jews in the community through the distribution of direct relief, services of doctors and midwives and by street-corner preaching and proselytizing. To counteract the work of the Toronto missionaries the Folks Farein offered a number of services including welfare for working mothers, a reading room, English language classes and translation services for Yiddish immigrants.
When the threat from missionary activity was no longer an issue, the Folks Farein transformed itself into a philanthropic society. Under its revised mandate the society looked after the sick and needy in hospitals, sanatoriums, mental health institutions and in their homes, and arranged for free doctor services, translation services, medicine, dentures, eyeglasses, orthopedic shoes and medical appliances. The Folks Farein guaranteed the full or partial payment of medical bills by maintaining a fund in several hospitals for the benefit of Jewish patients in need of assistance. They provided assistance to seniors applying for old age pensions, to widows and mothers applying for benefits, assisted needy families and patients with kosher meals, provided cash relief during Passover, and fed and billeted the unemployed and homeless at their premises at 37 Cecil Street.
In the course of their work, the Folks Farein collaborated with many Jewish organizations and societies such as the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society, Jewish Family Welfare Bureau, Relief Unemployment Fund, Jewish Joint Application Bureau, Jewish Children's Bureau, the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto, Canadian Jewish Congress and the Toronto Hebrew Free Loan Association.
Its basis of revenue came from its large membership, house-to-house contributions from the public and from special events such as its annual ball, Moes Chittin campaign, Purim ball, and beauty contests.
In addition to its regular activities the Folks Farein assumed responsibility for providing aid to refugees of the Second World War: the first group arriving from Europe in 1945 and in 1948 to a group of Jewish tailors liberated from the DP camps of Germany. In 1947, the Folks Farein established Hachnoses Orchim, a temporary shelter to accommodate refugees and displaced persons. The shelter was located at 37 Cecil Street.
The Folks Farein's first officers were Mr. J. Graner (president), Mr. J. Meisniker (vice-president), Mr. Meyer Littner (superintendent), Chuna Mosoff and Mr. W. Welman (trustees), Miss Weiner and Mr. Cohen (board of education), Mr. A. Kaminsky (recording secretary) and Mr. Cohen (treasurer). Mr. Epstein referred to as "Grandfather" was one of the founders of the Folks Farein.
Other pioneers included Moshe Oelbaum, and M. Spiegel (1st vice-president), J. Hurwitz (1st vice-president and president), Abraham Sher, S.M. Shapiro Shlesinger, Joseph Grenner, Mrs. Minna Winter (president of the Women's Auxiliary) and Kalman Wagner. In 1930, David Green assumed the position of president of the Folks Farein and served as its exclusive president from 1934 until his passing on 13 May 1977. Sam Cohen was then elected the new president of the Folks Farein.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records documenting the Folks Farein's philanthropic activities in the Toronto Jewish community from 1914 to 1977. Records include meeting minutes and agendas of the executive board and committees, resolutions of board of directors, newspaper clippings in both Yiddish and English, publicity material, photographs, general correspondence, architectural drawings, cemetery deeds, legal documents, records relating to David Green's personal interests, financial and fundraising records, wills and bequests, and client case files. The records have been arranged into nine series: Meeting minutes; Scrapbooks; Executive services; Celebrations and events; Building and operations; David Green; Finance and fundraising; and Case files.