Jewish People’s and Peretz Schools (JPPS)

The Jewish People’s Schools and Peretz Schools (JPPS) was formed through the merger of those two institutions in 1971.  The merger amalgamated all aspects of the schools including budget, fundraising, pensions, administration as well as educational goals and philosophy.  The union of the schools was a difficult process due to financial difficulties, particularly of the Peretz Schools, but also because of the loyalty that many in the community felt for one or the other school.  Ultimately the union was successful and JPPS was also able to establish a long-desired high school, Bialik High School, which opened in 1972 and continued the educational goals of the elementary schools.  JPPS/Bialik is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2014, a century of community service! 

Jewish Peretz Schools

The Jewish Peretz School, under the original name of National Radical Shul, was founded in 1911.  Difficulties in building a programme though meant that school started to grow starting only in 1913.  The initial programme consisted of after-school classes taught by “teachers” who themselves worked during the day at other jobs.  Guided by intellectuals and layman, most recently arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe, the Jewish Peretz School fostered educational goals based on the socialist movement, Yiddish language and literature as well as ancient and modern Hebrew literature.

In 1919 the National Radical Shul changed its name officially to the Jewish Peretz School.  The year before the school had purchased its first home on Cadieux Street near Prince Arthur, in the heart of Jewish Montreal.  The school remained an after-school programme until 1941 when the first kindergarten class began.  In 1942 the brand new building on Duluth Street was completed and filled to capacity with students almost immediately. 

Jewish People’s Schools

The Jewish People’s Schools were founded in 1914 under the auspices of the Poale Zion Party, mainly to provide Jewish education for Jewish children attending the Protestant schools in Montreal.  Pupils initially attended classes in the afternoons and on Sunday.  In 1928, the Jewish People’s Schools organized the first Jewish all-day school in Montreal.

In the early years, the schools were run out of rented houses but in 1941 a modern school was built on the corner of Waverly and Fairmount.  Two rented houses were maintained to handle the number of students however.  In 1954 the first stage of the building on Van Horne was built.  Between 1956-1958 the school on Waverly Street and the annex opposite the school were sold as the second story of the Van Horne Street building was completed.

The Jewish People’s Schools combined a secular programme, by following the official curriculum of the former Protestant School Board of Montreal, with training in Yiddish and Hebrew.  The school was dedicated to the preservation of Jewish heritage and took responsibility to provide students with Jewish consciousness.

Classroom Activity: Many of the earliest photographs from the Jewish People’s Schools are candid yet they still show us how the students played, learnt and worked together.  Record the history of your class by taking one photograph each week of an activity that you think reflects what is important to you and your fellow students.