The Golden Book of the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue cites Louis Levine of Minsk, Poland as the first Jewish settler to arrive in 1896. The next records of a Jewish family come from around 1912. While some early immigrants were butchers, many peddled because they spoke no English, could not read or write, and had no trade. Like other Canadian centres at the time, some had difficulty getting jobs with non-Jews. The Jewish community was a closely-knit one, with most living on King Street, and the legends tell of singing and dancing with the rabbi as the members went from house to house collecting foods and kugels. Sunday afternoons were spent picking berries with the help of Reuben Budovich’s car.
The congregation was incorporated in 1929. Services were held in the Rabbi’s home at 273 King Street, with High Holiday services being held at the Orangeman’s Hall on Queen Street, until Sgoolai Israel Synagogue was built in 1934. A cemetery was purchased in 1943, and until that time community members had been buried in Saint John, as were the deceased from the Moncton Jewish community.
A Sisterhood and Hadassah were formed by 1936, and Habonim Lodge was later started but ultimately replaced by B’nai Brith. Because of sentiments brought from the Old Country, the Fredericton Jewish community has always been a strongly Zionist one. Boys took Hebrew lessons at the teacher’s home because there was initially no Hebrew School, but it would have been very uncommon for girls to receive formal Hebrew training at that time.
During World War II (1941), there were approximately two thousand Jews interned at Ripples, NB. Five hundred of these prisoners went on a hunger strike demanding kosher food, and the Fredericton community stepped in to provide it. They also made sure to visit these prisoners and provide as much comfort as they could.
Today Fredericton has approximately 60 Jewish families, recently under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Yosef Goldman.
|The person responsible for representing the Fredericton community on matters that concern the Atlantic Jewish Council is Marilyn Kauffman (send an e-mail)|
|If you have seen anything in the media or elsewhere that you find anti-Semitic or anti-Israel and you would like to have someone challenge that position in writing, Israel Unger (send an e-mail) is the Community Relations person responsible for handling these matters.|
Check Out These Links:
|Sgoolai Israel Synagogue|
|Fredericton Immigration Committee|
|Israel-Related News in French|
|City of Fredericton|
|Daily Gleaner Newspaper|
Historical background prepared by Tristan Stewart-Robertson