Moncton’s Jewish history is the youngest of the three largest New Brunswick Jewish communities. Jake Baig was the first Jewish settler in 1898, but it was the arrival of twenty-two families from Durbonne, Lithuania that actually established Moncton’s Jewish community. The men arrived first and established themselves, and then sent for their wives and children in Europe (a fairly common practice among Jews and other immigrant settlers in the region). These Durbonners, as they were called, formed a very cohesive community and all settled on the same street. By 1910 the community was large enough to hire its first Rabbi, Jacob Hans. With about 15 families in 1914, the congregation began to collect 10 cents from each member each week until there was enough money in 1924 to purchase a plot of land. Jake Marks and Sam Borenstein purchased the present lot on Steadman Street at an auction for $650. The cornerstone for Congregation Tiferes Israel was laid in 1926 and the building was completed by the following year. A cemetery for the Jewish community was purchased in 1930, prior to which Moncton Jews were buried in Saint John.
A sense of solidarity among Jews in Moncton is clearly evidenced in their response during and immediately after World War II. Moncton Jews readily welcomed the thousands of Jewish airmen stationed in their city. The community opened a serviceman’s centre and it is estimated that over 23,000 men and women used these facilities. Home hospitality was provided for the holidays of Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur. After the war, when trains would pass through Moncton with Jewish immigrants on their way west, members of the community would meet the trains (often in the middle of the night) attending to any of their immediate needs.
As in many other Jewish communities across the region, the Jews of Moncton have penetrated many of the host society’s institutions. From lawyers to doctors, from judges to university professors, to Michael M. Baig’s two terms as mayor of Moncton, the Moncton Jewish community has contributed greatly to the city as a whole.
The Moncton Jewish community appears to have reason to be optimistic about its future. It is one of the few communities in Atlantic Canada that has experienced growth in its Jewish population, with an influx of young Jewish people attracted by the expanding government and university sectors. Moncton is now the second largest Jewish community in Atlantic Canada, boasting approximately 100 families.
Medjuck, Sheva. (1986). Jews of Atlantic Canada. St. John’s: Breakwater Books Ltd.
|The person responsible for representing the Moncton community on matters that concern the Atlantic Jewish Council isNancy Cohen (send an e-mail).|
Check Out These Links:
|Tiferes Israel Synagogue|
|Moncton Immigration Committee|
|Israel-Related News in French|
|City of Moncton|
|Times Transcript Newspaper|