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Benjamin "Ben" Gershon Kayfetz was born on 24 December 1916 in Toronto. He married Eva Silver and had two children. Ben graduated from the University of Toronto in 1939, with a bachelor of arts in modern languages. He worked as a high school teacher in Huntsville, Ontario and Niagara Falls, Ontario between 1941 and 1943. In 1943, he joined the war effort, working for the Department of National Defense in postal censorship and was responsible for reviewing prisoner of war mail. After the war, Kayfetz traveled to British-occupied Germany, where he worked as a censor of telecommunications with the Control Commission until 1947. Upon returning to Toronto, he was hired as the national director of community relations by the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) and as the executive (national) director of the Joint Community Relations Committee (JCRC), a CJC-B'nai B'rith cooperative organization. He also served as the central region executive director of the CJC between 1973 and 1978. He worked to develop anti-discrimination laws and for the protection of minority and religious rights. Kayfetz was also actively involved in promoting the welfare of Jewish communities worldwide. He was awarded the Samuel Bronfman Medal by the Canadian Jewish Congress in 1985 and the Order of Canada in 1986. In addition to his professional activities, Kayfetz wrote articles for various Jewish publications under both his own name and the pseudonym Gershon B. Newman. He also gave a weekly radio address on CHIN radio addressing various contemporary Jewish issues and was actively involved in the Toronto Jewish Historical Society (serving as its president), the Canadian Jewish Historical Society, and the Yiddish Luncheon Circle. He died in 2002.
Balmy Beach Swastika Club
Canadian Jewish Congress
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto
G:\Description\Oral Histories\AC 210, Ben Kayfetz\AC 210 notes.pdf
In this clip, Ben Kayfetz describes the skirmish between antisemitic and Jewish youths at Kew Beach in July 1933.
In this clip, Ben Kayfetz discusses the laws that restricted “Jews or other objectionable races” from purchasing, owning or renting properties in Toronto and summer resort areas. He describes the steps taken to change the law.