The Canadian Jewish Experience: A Tribute to Canada 150 (CJE), is a new exhibit that marks the contribution of the Jewish people to Canada and celebrates the country’s 150 anniversary of Confederation. It will open in Ottawa on Sunday, April second at 1 pm in the lobby of 30 Metcalfe Street just two blocks from Parliament Hill.
The Canadian Jewish Experience is composed of specially created bilingual exhibit panels illustrating nine major themes. These include contributions in war and diplomacy, public service, human rights, economic growth, arts, culture and sport. A travelling version of the CJE Exhibit will be available in other cities across Canada.
The CJE will also present a speaker series to highlight the contributions of Jewish Canadians to the development of Canada.
The idea for the exhibit came from CJE Committee head Tova Lynch. Born in Jerusalem, she was the first woman press photographer in Israel, she told CIJnews in a phone interview from Ottawa. Tova came to Canada in l978 after marrying a Canadian career diplomat that she met in Israel.
“Jewish people have played a key role in all facets of life in Canada,” she said. “Their accomplishments reflect the challenges and successes experienced by Canada in its first 150 years. CJE will tell Canada’s Jewish story to many thousands of visitors to Ottawa in 2017.” She added, “We chose the maple leaf as the symbol of our exhibit and the symbol of our organization.”
The Jewish connection to Canada dates back to the amid-1700s. “The first Jewish Canadians arrived more than one hundred years before Confederation,” notes Senator Linda Frum. “We’ve been here for a quarter of a millennium, but many Canadians don’t know the role we’ve played to make our country strong and vibrant. The Canadian Jewish Experience will help to change that.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said that the National Capital is the appropriate home for the CJE exhibit. “In 2017, Ottawa will be at the centre of celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday and Jewish people have played a key role in all facets of life in the city. In fact their accomplishments here reflect all the themes of the Canadian Jewish Experience, including being elected Mayor.”
The CJE was funded entirely by donors from across the country. The Asper Foundation and Bel- Fran Charitable Foundation (Samuel and Frances Belzberg) were major donors.
Other Jewish leaders who have assisted the CJE include Victor Rabinovitch, former president and CEO of the Museum of Civilization (now the Canadian Museum of History), the leaders of Jewish Federations across Canada, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. CJE is also supported by Members of Parliament from all federal parties; Senator Linda Frum, former Senator Gerry Grafstein, and Rabbi Dr. Reuven Bulka, QC, who will MC the event. Sandra Weizman Morton of Calgary is the curator of the CJE exhibit and virtual exhibit.
For further information on the CJE, contact [email protected] or by phone, 613.680.8820.
Doris is a multimedia journalist with many years of experience. She has worked in radio, television and print journalism and writes on a variety of topics, especially the crucial issues in Canadian and Jewish life.