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Canadian Jews


    After their exclusion during the period of French rule, Jews arrived together with the British soldiers who made their homes in Montreal. The first synagogue, Shaarei Israel, was consecrated there in 1768. The census of 1831 recorded 107 Jews. In 1832 Canadian Jews were granted full civil rights. However, until the 1850s aside from a few Jews scattered throughout the country, nearly all of Canadian Jewry lived in Montreal. In the 1850s Jewish immigrants arrived from Lithuania and began to settle in Toronto and Hamilton, raising the number of Jews to 2,500 by the early 1880s.

    This was a watershed year for Canadian Jewry. Russian oppression brought a new influx of Jewish refugees which increased the Jewish population to 16,000 in 1900 and to 126,000 in 1921. In the face of the Nazi onslaught against European Jews, Canada slammed its doors shut. In the years preceding the war, and during the Holocaust itself, only a few thousand Jews managed to find sanctuary here.

    The energetic campaign of the Canadian Jewish Congress after the war helped to open the gates to Holocaust survivors and refugees from North Africa. This immigration significantly increased the size of Canadian Jewry from 170,000 to 260,000.


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