Jewish History

A United Jewish Appeal? Fundraising and Identity in Toronto's Jewish Community, 1948-1975


My recently completed dissertation looked at the relationship between fundraising, identity and Israel in Toronto's Jewish community. Beginning with the founding of the city's United Jewish Appeal (UJA) in 1948 (only months before Israel was established), my work attempted to find any correlation between events in Israel and/or Canada and the annual totals raised by the UJA. Of greater interest to me was how the annual totals were divided between local causes (such as welfare and cultural groups) and Israel (funding which was administered by the United Israel Appeal in Montreal).

My research showed that increases in fundraising totals corresponded to three main events: the 1956 Suez Crisis, the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Beginning in 1956, the allocation from the UJA directed to Israel also began to overtake local causes, suggesting that a strong relationship with Israel was being developed by donors in Toronto. In fact, documents from the UJA campaign's administration indicate that unity was only achieved within the campaign when Israel's existence was threatened. During periods of relative peace, campaign totals declined and infighting limited the UJA's ability to function.

The role of fundraising in Canadian Jewish identity is a new area of historical study and I am hoping to extend this research in future. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please contact me.

My project was awarded the Dr. Stephen Speisman Bursary (2013), A program of the Ontario Jewish Archives; the University of York History Department Dissertation Prize (2014); and was nominated for the Royal Historical Society/History Today Dissertation Prize.

A copy of A United Jewish Appeal? is on file at the Ontario Jewish Archives.

Useful Academic Journals for Canadian Jewish History



While many of these journals require subscriptions to access (usually through university libraries), you are free to browse the titles to get an idea of current research. Larger public libraries may also be able to help you source specific articles.



The American Jewish Yearbook: Rarely will you come across academic work of North American Jewish social history without finding a reference to the AJYB. For over a century, it provided detailed articles and reports on the state of world Jewry, with particular emphasis on the United States and Canada (especially after 1950). The articles provide a detailed analysis of a variety of subjects, while the country-specific report outline religious, demographic, fundraising and community developments in Jewish communities.The AJYB ceased publication in 2008, but has been resurrected under a more American-centric format from 2012 by Springer. The AJYB in its original form from 1899-2008 has been digitized and is available freely online courtesy of the American Jewish Committee.



Canadian Jewish Studies: Essentially, the entire field of Canadian Jewish history is related to this journal. While that may sound parochial, the diversity of articles demonstrates how many different angles and ideas can be found in the study of Jewish Canada. Past issues have also included detailed bibliographies invaluable for anyone studying Canadian Jewish history. As an added bonus, Canadian Jewish Studies is available free-of-charge through York University.



Jewish History: A well-established journal that does exactly what it says on the box: Jewish history.



Jewish Social Studies: Another well-established journal. Despite its name, it is full of interesting and helpful articles related to Jewish history. I found many articles dating from prior to the 1980s especially useful in my work.

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