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Canada at 150

Take the time to learn about Canada’s rich Jewish landscape

Jonathan Zalman
June 30, 2017
The Canadian flag.Shutter
The Canadian flag.Shutter

Saturday is Canada Day, a time when our neighbors up north (or, everywhere but south, if you’re reading this from Maine) celebrate their national heritage. If you live in Canada, I imagine it will be easy to participate in some form of celebration or observance, or to recall memories of years past. But for those of us who don’t live in Canada, or perhaps don’t know quite enough about the largest country in the Western Hemisphere—and the second largest country in the world (after Russia)—I offer you two vast resources.

The first is the Canadian government’s library and archive, which includes a wealth of information of the original inhabitants of the land—First Nations, Métis, and Inuit—from early mythology to archaeological discoveries, and “evidence of bison drives and jumps in Alberta.” The second is right here, in this very place, at the tip of your fingers: Tablet’s outstanding archives.

Start here, with your ears. Listen to Canada’s National Anthem sung in Yiddish, or check out an episode of Unorthodox live in Toronto, featuring David Bezmozgis, who grew up there. Speaking of Toronto… Read about how one author doesn’t talk like other Torontonians because she was raised in the ‘Bathurst Bubble,’ the city’s Jewish community. And if you’re desiring, still, even more about Toronto, read a short story set in Jewish Toronto of the 1930s. Maybe print this one for the beach.

You should read about how Canadian synagogues, including one in Vancouver, are sponsoring Syrian refugees. It is through this article that you will learn about a unique sponsorship program, the only one of its kind in the world, which allows “groups of individuals and community organizations to bring refugees into the country.” Then, read this.

Of course, there is apparently a debate about Montreal bagels vs. those doughy creations from NYC. But people eat other things in Montreal, and this dispatch about pop-ups dinners in Montreal showcases the diversity of Jewish cooking. And continue your Montreal journey here, with this story about observant Jews smuggling kosher wine into the city. Then compete your journey in this part of the country by moving nearby, well sort of nearby, to Nova Scotia, where Russians have found a new community in Halifax.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.