Immigration and Charity in the Montreal Jewish Community Before 1890

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Immigration and Charity in the Montreal Jewish Community Before 1890
Organized in 1863 to provide temporary assistance to indigent Jewish immigrants, the Young Men's Hebrew Benevolent Society of Montreal was the first and most important Jewish philanthropic organization in Canada. However, the author points out that the records reveal that while Jewish indigency in Montreal was minor and while the Society included many members of the city's two established synagogues, the organization felt overwhelmed by its responsibilities. He maintains that when Jewish immigration to Canada during the 1880s more than doubled the community's size, the Society did little to increase significantly the scope of its work. One of the reasons for this reluctance to support charitable work was due to the ethnic division within the Jewish community, with the longer established and more prosperous German Jews looking down on the later arrivals from Eastern Europe. The financial crisis arising from the immigration of 1882-83 was met only with sizeable support from Montreal's Protestants and London Jewish agencies, and the purchase of a Montreal Jewish house of refuge in 1890 was made possible by a grant from the Paris-based Baron Maurice de Hirsch. The author argues that far from welcoming Jewish immigration, supporters of Montreal's leading Jewish philanthropy resented the burdens imposed on them and, on occasion, even attempted unsuccessfully to stern the flow.
Histoire sociale/Social History
Vol. 16
no. 32
November 1983

Article reprinted in: Gerald Tulchinsky (Ed.), Immigration in Canada: Historical Perspectives (pp. 155–176). Toronto: Copp Clark Longman Inc., 1994.

Tulchinsky, Gerald. “Immigration and Charity in the Montreal Jewish Community Before 1890.” Histoire sociale/Social History Vol. 16, no. 32 (November 1983): 359–380.
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