The Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) was established in 1973 and remains in operation today. The OJA’s mandate is to acquire, preserve, and make available records documenting Ontario’s Jewish community. The Archives became a legal corporation on 24 February 1977 with authorization from the Federal Corporations Act and the Provincial Letters Patent.
The Toronto Jewish Historical Society (TJHS) established an Archives Committee in 1971, to preserve the records of Toronto’s Jewish community. This prompted the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) Central Region to work with the TJHS to establish an organization that would preserve records of Jewish communities across Ontario. At a CJC Central Region Officers’ meeting in 1973, TJHS president Victor Sefton proposed that the Historical Society’s Archives Committee become an official arm of the CJC. After approving the proposal, the CJC Central Region allocated a budget for operation of the Archives, and the two Committees merged, forming one archival organization that operated under the umbrella of the CJC Central Region.
After the Toronto Jewish Congress (TJC) formed in 1976, the Archives became accountable to the TJC but continued to report to the CJC Central Region. In 1992, the TJC and CJC transferred responsibility for the Archives to the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) Federation, and the Archives remains part of that organization today.
The OJA’s administrative structure includes a Board of Directors, the director of the archives, archivists, an assistant archivist, contract employees, and volunteers. The Board of Directors consists of six to twelve members, each approved by UJA Federation and current Board members. Meetings are held a minimum four times per year and are presided by a Chair or the Vice Chair in the Chair’s absence. The Archives Director manages daily operation of the Archives. From 1973 to around 2000, Stephen Speisman acted as Director of the Archives. Ellen Scheinberg served as Archives Director from October 2002 to January 2011. Dara Solomon began as the OJA's Director in May 2012.
Since 1973, the Archives has undergone unofficial and official name changes. When first established in 1973, the Archives was called the “Canadian Jewish Congress Central Region Archives.” After the Archives became accountable to the TJC, OJA letterheads and publicity material occasionally bore the name “Toronto Jewish Congress / Canadian Jewish Congress Central Region Archives.” When the Archives became a legal corporation in 1977, the corporation was named the “Ontario Jewish Archives Foundation” but the Archives’ public name remained unchanged. In 1992, the Archives’ public name officially became the “Ontario Jewish Archives.”
Scope and Content
This sous-fonds documents the formation, administration, and operation of the OJA. Records relating to the establishment of the Archives date from 1971-1973, while those relating to administration and operation date from 1973-2008.
This sous-fonds consists of Archives Committee meeting minutes, memoranda, policies, communications with parent organizations (mainly TJC), financial records, correspondence, records documenting the development of the OJA website, and a small amount of acquisition files. Records in the sous-fonds relate to Archives programs and projects, including tours, exhibits, presentations, workshops, and services. Activities of employee and volunteer work are also documented. Also present are budgets and posters from the Oskar Asher Schmidt Museum, which the Archives operated.
Access restriction note: The financial records, personnel and competition files and grant files are restricted to the public.
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
Additional records related to this sous-fonds can be found in the Sol Edell fonds, Victor Sefton fonds, accession 2006-7/7 and Cyrel Troster's records.
Correspondence was originally organized in chronological order and remains in the original order. Other records have been arranged according to function or activity.
Ontario Jewish Archives (Toronto, Ont.)
This sous-fonds is comprised of accessions 2005-8/2, 2004-5/99 and 2004-6/5 along with MG8J and materials from the Sol Edell fonds.