|Presented by the|
Jewish Public Library Archives, Montreal
Montreal World Book Capital, 2005-2006
Writer Mordecai Ginsburg with JPL founders Kaufman and Brainin.
|The early 20th century was a period of rapid growth and development in the city of Montreal.
Immigrant communities boomed, leading to the establishment of new, diverse cultural identities for many of
the city's neighbourhoods. Quebec had long had a Jewish presence but the influx of Jews fleeing the poverty
and pogroms of Eastern Europe created a large community of Yiddish speakers. The city supported at least
one long-time daily Yiddish newspaper, the Keneder Odler, as well as numerous smaller publications, a
Yiddish theatre, schools and the Yidishe folks bibliotek - the Jewish Public Library. Concurrently,
the rise of Zionist movements, both in North America and Europe, encouraged the revitalization of
Hebrew as a language and in literature. In addition to the established literary population, the
city was and continues, to play host to visiting international Yiddish and Hebrew poets, writers and
scholars - all of whom pay homage to Montreal's central role in the preservation of Yiddish and Hebrew.|
Since 1914, the Jewish Public Library has been a focal point in the promotion of these languages and cultures.
The collections of the Jewish Public Library include works of some of the world's greatest Yiddish and Hebrew
writers, and the Library cultivated and benefited from the personal participation and leadership of several
of these writers. Their works document the communal memory of over 100 years of Jews in Montreal, from the
newly arrived immigrant or refugee, to the generations who have called this city home.
Banner from Montreal Yiddish daily, Keneder Odler
Crowds at the opening of the Jewish Public Library on Esplanade Ave.
The Library's Archives currently preserve the manuscripts, photographs and records of over twenty-five of these
literary luminaries. This exhibition, comprising of a series of panels each dedicated to a different writer,
celebrates the cultural accomplishments of the past and the unique roles that these writers played in the
Jewish community. Their writing reflects the internationalism of Jewish literature and also the importance
of community to the individual. From poets capturing the emotion of displacement and the sustaining yet
sometimes illusory nature of hope, to historians and journalists recording the voice of a people, and
novelists revealing the characters of a community; Yiddish and Hebrew literature continues to resonate and
to capture new audiences in Montreal and abroad.
Using the navigation list to the left, explore the world of Montreal's Yiddish and Hebrew writers of the 20th century!