Jewish Community

Jews began arriving to Canada in the middle of the 18th century and were granted full civil rights in 1832. Russian oppression in the late 19th century brought a new influx of Jewish refugees, as did World War II (although during the war, Canada closed its immigration policy to Jews). Canada’s largest Jewish communities are situated in Toronto (175,000) and Montreal (100,000), followed by Vancouver (30,000). The level of intermarriage has increased over the last ten years but remains significantly lower than in the United States. Most of the community is Ashkenazi, but there is a large population of French-speaking Moroccan Jews in Montreal. In the last decade, primarily due to immigration, Canadian Jewry grew by 14%, making it one of the fastest-growing communities in the Diaspora. Twenty-five percent of all the Jews who immigrated to Canada in the past ten years were born in the Soviet Union, and 20% in Israel (an estimated 45,000 Israelis live in Canada today.

40% of Canadian Jewry have identified themselves as Orthodox, 40% as Conservative and 20% as Reform Jews. There are synagogues in nearly all the communities and Kosher food is widely available. Toronto and Montreal have 12 Jewish schools and several Yeshivot. There are also Jewish schools in Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa. In Montreal some 60% of the Jewish children attend Jewish primary schools, and 30% attend Jewish high schools. In Toronto the figures are 40% and 12% respectively.

Israel and Canada have full diplomatic relations. In addition to the embassy in Ottawa, there are consulate generals in Toronto and Montreal. Canada boasts several impressive synagogues, notably in Montreal and Toronto. Montreal’s old Jewish neighborhood, the Main, draws many visitors. The Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Toronto houses the Canadian branch of the New York Jewish Museum, which features the Cecil Roth collection of Judaica. There are also small Holocaust museums in Toronto, Winnipeg and Ottawa.

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