Jewish Heritage Month: It's Who We are. Discover our Stories

Jewish Heritage Month: It's Who We are. Discover our Stories

Since 2018, when Jewish History Month was officially established, the month of May has been an opportunity to celebrate the inspirational Jewish Canadians who have had an enormous impact on Canadian society. We make up a tiny portion of Canada’s population, and yet you can see our influence across politics, business, sports, arts and culture, and so much more.

It feels more important than ever to celebrate the incredible Jewish Canadian accomplishments and to understand how our community has thrived despite adversity. We’ve been here since before Confederation and we will continue to play a meaningful, positive role in Canadian society.

Summer Camps

Spending the summer at camp is a rite of passage for many young Canadians. The Jewish community has embraced this tradition with camps of our own, dedicated to nature, activities, Jewish education, and community building. Jewish camps have become a home away from home, a safe summer haven for Jewish kids and teens to explore their identities, discover new skills, and make friends for life.

Some of the earliest camps were established in the 1920s, when Jews were excluded from many mainstream activities. These camps have since expanded to create inclusive, immersive experiences for Jewish youth that extend over generations, with many kids attending the same camps as their parents and grandchildren!

To learn more about UJA-affiliated camps, please visit our camps page. We also offer scholarships, which you can apply for through the portal.

coming soon


The GTA’s Jewish Community Centres (JCCs) are where we gather for sports and recreation, Jewish arts and culture, and holiday celebrations and special events. These hubs are where we send our kids to activities, Hebrew school, and summer camp, where we meet new friends and build community. JCCs are our homes away from home.

And it all started more than 100 years ago, when a group of social and athletic organizations banded together to form the Hebrew Association of Young Men’s and Young Women’s Clubs—the precursor to the YM-YWHA—in the 1920s. This organization operated out of rented rooms, the basement of Talmud Torah, and a small building at 15 Brunswick Avenue.

Fast forward to the 1950s, and the first dedicated Jewish Community Centre was built at Bloor and Spadina where it still stands today. The Miles Nadal JCC has been joined by the Prosserman JCC in North York and the Schwartz/Reisman Centre in Vaughan, where the spirit of Jewish joy and community is thriving.

To learn more about the history of the JCCs, visit the Ontario Jewish Archive’s 50th anniversary page and visit your local J to get involved, get active, and have fun!

JCCs are the heart of our communities. They started as rented rooms downtown over 100 years ago.

The Shuls Project

Synagogues (“shuls” in Yiddish) are at the core of Jewish religious and spiritual life. In the summer of 1977, a group of architectural students hopped into a camper van and drove across Canada to document every synagogue from St. John’s to Vancouver. They called it “Shuls… A Study of Canadian Synagogue Architecture.” We call it The Shuls Project.

One summer turned into three, which meant Sidney Tenebaum, Lynn Milstone, and Sheldon Levitt were able to visit more than 250 synagogues. What they discovered and documented was the evolving nature of Canadian shuls over the 20th century. Some were in repurposed homes and churches, some in purpose-built buildings. All contained the markings of Jewish life, from arks and bimahs, to stained glass and candelabras, to yahrzeit and founder’s plaques. And all told the story of each community’s unique development, growth, and engagement.

Synagogues are more than just places of worship. These are spaces where we gather, where we gain strength, and where we proudly assert our Jewishness. Whether it’s a tiny room in a strip mall or a large building with a choir section, synagogues are there for us when we need them wherever we go across this vast country.

SHULS PROJECT: Shuls: A study of Canadian Synagogue Architecture.

Arts and Culture

When you think of Jewish Canadian artists, you may automatically think of Eugene Levy or Leonard Cohen. But the arts run even deeper in Canadian Jewish society, with comedians, musicians, playwrights, actors, visual artists, and event organizers creating beautiful, meaningful art of all shapes and sizes. From the hyper local to the world stage, Jewish Canadian artists have a way of creating and connecting that not only tells our stories but invites the world to play and imagine.

The arts are an essential part of how we form our Jewish identity, making it easier to connect and engage with our place in society as contemporary Jews. The arts make viewers feel seen and understood—like they belong. And arts and culture are thriving in Jewish Toronto.

From Kultura Collective—a network of local organizations working to support and amplify Jewish voices—to dedicated festivals like Ashkenaz Foundation and the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, to theatre companies and art galleries, there is so much incredible Jewish art and culture giving depth and meaning to our community.

It’s truly something magical that any day of the week you can immerse yourself in Jewish art in Toronto, whether in tiny galleries or on the big screen.

coming soon