Montreal of Yesterday: Jewish Life in Montreal 1900-1920 (Mighty Wheels Series)

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9781550651331: Montreal of Yesterday: Jewish Life in Montreal 1900-1920 (Mighty Wheels Series)

For the first time, this captivating classic on Jewish immigrant life in Montreal (1900–1920) is available in English. Immigrant life, class divisions, the first socialists, the first Jewish bookstore, Canadian life, the press, art and business, Yiddish vaudeville, politics and citizenship, Jewish soldiers, writers, the poor, and religious observance are described with warmth and good humor. Israel Medres was a staff writer for the Keneder Adler for 25 years. Thousands of Yiddish-speaking Eastern European immigrants read the newspaper not only for information about everything from world news to local events, but also for literary works of poetry, prose and humor. His articles appeared in Yiddish papers the world over. When Medres wrote Montreal of Yesterday in the aftermath of World War II, the period from 1900 to 1920 already seemed remote. By 1947, the immigration period had long since come to an end, and the future of world Jewry was uncertain. Medres was writing a true social history that was considered a subject worthy of serious study in university history departments. Vivian Felsen's introduction provides background to the events in Europe that led to almost 30,000 Eastern European Jews settling in Montreal. Historical photographs, a glossary, and J.I. Segal's original foreword complete this important document of Canadian social history.

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About the Author:

Israel Medres was a staff writer for the Keneder Adler for 25 years. His articles appeared in Yiddish papers the world over.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

When in 1902 the socialists opened a store on Main Street to sell the Jewish Daily Forward they in effect created a cultural centre, the first Jewish cultural centre in Montreal. In addition to the Forward, the store sold other Yiddish newspapers from New York as well as the best Yiddish literature then available in America. Hershman's bookstore became the central gathering place of the immigrant Jewish intellectuals. They would come there not only to purchase newspapers but also to debate world affairs or party politics.

The Jewish bookstore greatly enhanced the beauty and grandeur of Main Street in the eyes of the immigrant jews. To them, Main Street between Ontario and Craig was the most attractive and interesting street in Montreal. It was also their walking street. On a Friday evening Jewish immigrants would stroll along Main Sreet. They were intrigued and impressed by the window displays in the large stores. Walking by a clothing store, they would eagerly examine the new suits in the window. For six-and-a-half, or seven dollars, one could buy a serge suit that was elegant and genuinely American. In the old country, even the wealthy did not wear such elegant suits.

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