Board of Jewish Education

Established in 1949 as the Bureau of Jewish Education, the Board of Jewish Education (BJE) was the central Jewish agency in Toronto mandated to preserve, enrich, and promote Jewish education in the Greater Toronto area. Its primary tasks were to coordinate and provide leadership in teacher training, professional development, school administration, and inter-school activities; and to allocate funds raised through the annual UJA Federation fundraising campaign to affiliated Jewish schools.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, the BJE sponsored adult education programs in Toronto through the Institute for Jewish Studies, in collaboration with the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) and Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC). The BJE also provided assistance and advice to the CJC in support of Jewish education in smaller Jewish communities in Ontario. The BJE’s role in adult education diminished significantly after its reorganization in 1968, but it again became a responsibility for the BJE in the late 1990s.

The BJE has gone through several reorganizations since it was founded, of which the 1968 reorganization was the most significant. In 1968, the Bureau of Jewish Education became the Board of Jewish Education, and its board was reduced in size significantly. Later reorganizations typically involved alterations to the number and responsibilities of BJE committees.

Although its primary function is to support existing educational institutions, the BJE has also participated in establishing several new institutions in Toronto. In 1953, to meet the need for qualified teachers in affiliated schools, the BJE and the CJC Central Region founded a Jewish teachers’ seminary (Midrasha L’Morim) in Toronto. In 1960, the BJE and UJWF sponsored the establishment of the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT). In 1978, the Orah School for Jewish Children from the Soviet Union was established by the BJE to meet the special needs of the influx of immigrants from the Soviet Union.

The BJE served more than seventy day schools and supplementary programs in the Greater Toronto area when it ceased functioning. It was replaced by Mercaz and later by the Centre for Jewish Education, now known as the Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education.

Archivist Notes

The BJE fonds at the Ontario Jewish Archives contains a wealth of textual records and photographs documenting the history of Jewish education in Toronto. The BJE fonds provides valuable insights into the evolution of Jewish education in the city and its impact on the local Jewish community, while also serves as a great resource for academic research and can contribute to a deeper understanding of Jewish life in Toronto and beyond.

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