Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Jewish heritage of ‘New Scotland’

From the Jerusalem Post

Nova Scotia is a visual and cultural treat for anyone looking for a unique Canadian adventure. Situated among the Atlantic Maritime provinces along Canada’s eastern seaboard, it offers a unique blend of natural scenic wonders and strong Celtic cultural influences. Nova Scotia – Latin for New Scotland – is also a source of considerable Canadian history. Although European settlements were established by both the French and British in the early 17th century, British influence proved more enduring, particularly after the 1749 founding of Halifax.

From the 19th century and well into the 20th, more Europeans arrived on Canada’s eastern shores, including Jews from Poland, Lithuania, Germany and Russia.

Much like New York, Halifax served as the gateway for European immigrants entering Canada, and much like New York’s Ellis Island, Halifax’s Pier 21 was Canada’s major point of entry between 1928 and 1971.

Arriving by sea, about a million and a half immigrants passed through the pier before they settled in towns and cities across the nation, and, in the process, enriching Canada’s cultural mosaic.

However, not all immigrants who arrived at Pier 21 left for other parts of the country. Many stayed in Nova Scotia, especially Halifax, including a Jewish community that remains just under 2,000.

Although modest in number, the Jews of Halifax proudly represent the largest Canadian Jewish community east of Montreal.

Significant traces of Jewish history can be found in Halifax, especially along Oxford Street. While perhaps a dozen Jews inhabited Halifax at its founding, a formal community with Jewish infrastructure and Jewish organizations did not take shape until after Canadian Confederation in 1867.

In 1894, Halifax’s Baron de Hirsch Congregation, at the corner of Starr and Hurd Streets, was the first Orthodox congregation established east of Montreal.

Click here to read the entire article.

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