Jewish Public Library

This Week in JPL History: Cinderelly! Cinderelly!

This Week in JPL History: Cinderelly! Cinderelly!

In the early days the JPL would hold a ball each year. One of the first fundraisers ever held was “A Literary and Musical Evening” in 1914. This musical tradition was maintained throughout the early decades of the Library through the JPL’s annual ball. During the ball a number of musical groups would perform a few pieces each, often Fox Trots, or Waltzes. Attendees would all receive a souvenir program outlining the performances of the evening. These programs would also contain ad spaces which the [...]



This Week in JPL History: The Montreal Jewish Forums

This Week in JPL History: The Montreal Jewish Forums

The seventh season of Montreal Jewish Forums kicked off with a Symposium on the Future of Judaism on December 15th, 1963. It featured Leonard Cohen, Rabbi Morris Halpern, Jehudah Elberg, and Michael Rubenstein. The Montreal Jewish Forums were a weekly series of discussions and talks on a variety of subjects of community interest and were co-sponsored by the Jewish Public Library and the Jewish Immigrant Aid Services of Canada. The Montreal Jewish Forums allowed for the community to participate in dialogues on a number of [...]



This Week in JPL History: Naim Kattan Closes Jewish Book Month 1979

This Week in JPL History: Naim Kattan Closes Jewish Book Month 1979

“And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and his sons.” II Chronicles 36:20 It is these lines which preface the beginning of Naïm Kattan’s Adieu, Babylone, a fictionalized memoir of a youth in Babylon. Kattan is a writer who is very familiar to JPL audiences- as the Library has been fortunate enough to play host to him numerous times over the years. It was during this week in 1979 that Kattan closed Jewish [...]



This Week in JPL History: The J.I. Segal Awards are born

Oscar Shmoscar, Tony Baloney, Nobel So-bel, – the J.I. Segal Awards are where it’s really at. Established in honour of celebrated Yiddish poet J.I. Segal, these awards don’t concentrate on one theme alone, they celebrate so many aspects of Jewish culture. Current prizes award excellence in literature, film, and education. Past awards have honoured art and drama. What is truly impressive about these Awards isn’t just their scope; it is that they are driven by the community. Jury members and the funding for the Awards [...]



This Week in JPL History: Pierre van Paassen – The Forgotten Ally

This Week in JPL History: Pierre van Paassen – The Forgotten Ally

The name Pierre van Paassen may not be one that you are familiar with, though there was a time in Canada where he was well known in Jewish households.  van Passen was a European correspondent for a variety of American and Canadian newspapers, and who came to speak at the Jewish Public Library on November 25th in 1945. Almost 45 years later a lecture was given by David Kirk and Beverly Tansey on this forgotten ally of the Jewish people. van Paassen was born Pieter [...]



This Week in JPL History: No More Dead Dogs! Gordan Korman visits the JPL

This Week in JPL History: No More Dead Dogs! Gordan Korman visits the JPL

The Jewish Public Library has been lucky enough to host Gordon Korman twice over the years! The last time he visited was in 2000 when he came and spoke to a packed crowd of students. During his talk he gave advice to all the aspiring young authors- telling them to always carry a notebook, so that they could write about what they saw around them. He also told them to proofread, proofread, proofread, –joking that a character that’s an only-child with red hair can become [...]



This Week in JPL History: Mordecai Richler, “Jacob Twoty and fine Kosher puddings”

This Week in JPL History: Mordecai Richler, “Jacob Twoty and fine Kosher puddings”

One of the most well-known Canadian-Jewish writers, Mordecai Richler came to the Library in 1979 to deliver the Jewish Book Month Keynote Address. His topic was “Writing about Jews”, something he explored in many of his works. The Jewish Public Library recorded this lecture and through the efforts of the Yiddish Book Centre it, and another of Richler’s JPL lectures, is available online. You can access his lectures through this page. Richler begins speaking at 20:20 of part one of the lecture. As you listen, [...]



This Week in JPL History: In 1990, Saul Bellow spoke at the Library on “Being A Jewish Writer.”

This Week in JPL History: In 1990, Saul Bellow spoke at the Library on “Being A Jewish Writer.”

Back in 1990 Jewish Book Month started with Nobel Laureate sized bang when it kicked off with a lecture by Saul Bellow on being “A Jewish Writer.” His lecture was followed by a cocktail reception celebrating his 75th birthday. Bellow and the library have a long history. He visited the library in 1968 as well, and in a letter to David Rome after the event expressed how deeply Bellow was touched by the visit. You may be curious as to why this is so. The [...]



This Week in JPL History: Jewish Book Month Begins!

This Week in JPL History: Jewish Book Month Begins!

What do Saul Bellow, Simon Sebag Montifiore, Nathan Englander, Amos Oz, and Cynthia Ozick all have in common? They’ve all spoken as a part of Jewish Book Month at the Library. The annual program will soon be celebrating its 70th birthday in Montreal. Its first iteration was in 1944 when a number of Jewish institutions in Montreal collaborated to hold Jewish Book Week. It was an exhibit of Jewish books from various individuals and organizations and was opened by Governor-General Award-winning poet A.M. Klein. The [...]



This Week in JPL History: The People of the Book set up a Temple of the Book… Twice

This Week in JPL History: The People of the Book set up a Temple of the Book… Twice

On October 19th, 1952 the cornerstone of what was to be the Library’s new home on 4499 Esplanade was laid. In front of a crowd of over a thousand Allan Bronfman delivered a moving speech on behalf of his brother Samuel. He spoke about the enduring Jewish spirit and traditions and the centrality of books. The speech ended with the line “Today as we dedicate this Library for its people, let us also dedicate its people for the Library.” Also within the walls of the new [...]