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The History of the Jewish Community of Yarmouth & Mainland Nova Scotia
Even when the Jewish population is small, the history is rich.
After 1869, records show that early Jewish families had as many as twenty itinerants at one time for Friday night dinner. As the years went by, many of these itinerants decided to stay in Yarmouth and formed the backbone of the present Kehila.
By 1899, the Jewish population had increased in Yarmouth, and amongst the newcomers was the Fox family. Mr. George Fox was a junk dealer, but did not remain very long. He went on to Boston and established the Fox Fur Company there.
The first place of worship was over the Whitehouse store on the corner of Main and Brown Streets. When Mr. Whitehouse left Yarmouth he took the Torah with him to Baltimore. A Mr. Finklestein purchased a new Sefer Torah and donated it to the community, and this Torah still remains in the possession of the community.
The Jews of Yarmouth, especially Mr. I. Citron were some of the most active Zionists in the province if not the Maritimes as a whole. In fact, Mr. Citron was charged by the leaders of the Canadian Zionist movement to plant the seeds of Zionist organizations in Saint John, Moncton, and Halifax during the first decades of the century.
In March 1910, Mr. Samuel Epstein came to Yarmouth as Shochat, teacher and Hazan. It was then that the community bought the present synagogue on William Street.
In 1986, when it was evident the Yarmouth Jewish community was no longer in a position to manage the synagogue financially, and on the initiative of the leaders of the Yarmouth community, the synagogue and all its contents was deeded to the Shaar Shalom congregation in Halifax for safekeeping and administration. The new administration helps run High Holiday services in the community.
Outside of Halifax, there are presently 82 Jewish homes across the Nova Scotian mainland, including Yarmouth, Wolfville, Antigonish, and other smaller centres.
Medjuck, Sheva. (1986). Jews of Atlantic Canada. St. John’s: Breakwater Books Ltd.