Every year from now on, Canadians can celebrate the contributions of one of the country’s first religious minorities as a result of Parliament designating May as Canadian Jewish Heritage Month.
In 2018, Parliament passed Senator Linda Frum’s public bill and created this annual observance — a time to recognize the many ways people of Jewish faith in Canada have contributed to the country’s social fabric, politics, economy and culture. It also offers an opportunity to educate Canadians about the role Jewish communities have played across the country.
Canada’s Jewish population numbers approximately 400,000 — making it the fourth-largest in the world. Many of them are descendants of the 35,000 Holocaust survivors who came to Canada after the Second World War ended in 1945.
People of Jewish faith have a long history in Canada. In 1768, the first Jewish settlers to Lower Canada established a synagogue in Montreal and became the first non-Indigenous and non-Christian group to put down roots.
By 1832, the legislative assembly of Lower Canada had given Jews the right to vote, the first jurisdiction in the British Empire to do so.
Over the years, Jewish Canadians have made many substantial contributions to the country’s growth and prosperity while overcoming social obstacles, including discrimination and racism.
Canadian Jewish Heritage Month lines up with the Shavuot holiday that marks God’s gift of the Torah, which typically falls in May. May was also the month in which the State of Israel was created, in 1948, as a homeland for the Jewish people.