Montréal’s unique Jewish community, fuelled by mass immigration at the beginning of the 20th century, is one of the oldest and most populous in the country. Canadian Jews, Montréalers in particular, have been referred to as “cultural negotiators”, meaning that they deftly balance tradition with modernity. Montréal affords many interesting possibilities to witness the Jewish experience, their vibrant cultural and communal life. Jump in!
Montréal Jews have distinguished themselves in many areas, the arts in particular. For example, prolific Montréal Jewish writers include poet Irving Layton, foremost novelist and controversial journalist Mordecai Richler, and poet-novelist/sing-songwriter/ and most recently, visual artist Leonard Cohen.
The works of these prominent writers can be found at the Jewish Public Library, in operation since 1914. It offers collections and services in five languages – English, French, Russian, Hebrew and Yiddish – and emphasizes Jewish topics such as Canadian Jewish history, the Holocaust, Israel and Biblical studies…as well as the latest fiction and non-fiction bestsellers.
If you wish to delve into Montréal Jewish history, the Montréal Holocaust Memorial Centre is definitely the place to start. The museum invites visitors to reflect on the destruction caused by prejudice, racism and anti-Semitism through the life stories of Montréal survivors.
Taking centre stage in the Montréal Jewish performing arts scene is the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre, located in the Segal Centre for the Performing Arts. An internationally-acclaimed company dedicated to preserving and promoting the Yiddish language, their varied repertoire has been delighting Montréalers for decades. Just last year, they initiated the highly successful Montréal International Yiddish Theatre Festival.
Experience the ethnic and cultural dimensions of the Montréal Jewish identity!