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tolerance. Jews were in a decided minority consisting of “three thousand out of more than three million” but who were also accepted due to the sociocultural norms placed upon acceptance of diverse religions (Tulchinsky 10). Those Jews who determined to settle in Canada immigrated northward from New York and made an endeavor to maintain a close connection to the Jewish community found therein, suggesting that ties persisted between Canadian and American synagogues. Additionally, the authority acquired by immigrant Jews into Canada helped this community attain financial and physical (e.g.: land wealth) capital, which could then be applied to promoting the Jewish community and the sustainability of same. One source remarks that as “middle class urbanites, Canadian Jews were in the same economic and political camp as the Anglo Saxon elites that governed the colony and dominated its commerce” (Tulchinsky 18-19). The centralized placement of synagogues and Jewish communities within urban centers helped Judaism spread out into rural communities. Similarly, the synagogues tended to have powerful centralized governing systems through which prominent individuals were appointed to office; these individuals also tended to stress the importance of following Judaic law, which in turn ensured that the early years of Canadian Judaism did not differ dramatically from its roots. Those wishing to take a say in the direction of the synagogues were required to pay a steep entry fee, which served the dual purposes of ensuring the fiscal stability of the synagogue while also ensuring that its participating members would be tied to its welfare. However, in New York, the continued influx of immigrants who wished to enter the Jewish community suggested – correctly – that orthodox traditionalists from the old country would dominate the overall direction of the synagogue. However, those who were becoming increasingly integrated into the American
popular ideology and social structures chose to chart their own paths, a process that “necessitated the writing and rewriting of the synagogue’s constitution” (Eidelman 75). With some exceptions, such traits persisted for at least five decades. This further ensured that the Canadian Jews were able to develop and maintain control over their respective communities. Indeed, during a hiring period in the 1830s, one synagogue sought to acquire a leader who would further strengthen the community’s reliance on ritual, ceremony, and even the reading of holy texts in Hebrew. These practices were objected as isolationist by some but their supporters stressed that preserving an iron-cast control over the construction and evolution of new synagogues was the point. As a result, there were schisms within the community between those who wished to preserve orthodox traditions and those who wished to integrate a greater degree of tolerance and general acceptance within the synagogue. Additionally, political and social pressures affected these perceptions; the decision to grant Jews full rights as Canadian citizens was long in coming and created significant controversy among both non-Jews and Jews over which aspects of the social order were open to all members and which were better off shuttered.
Works Cited Eidelman, Jay. M. “Kissing Cousins: The Early History of Congrgations Shearith Israel of New York City and Montreal.” Elazar, Daniel J., Michael Brown, and Ira Robinson, eds. Not Written in Stone: Jews, Constitutions, and Constitutionalism in Canada. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press. Speisman, Stephen A. The Jews of Toronto: A History to 1937. New York: McClelland and Stewart. Tulchinsky, Gerald. Taking Root: The Origins of the Canadian Jewish Community. New York: Lester Publishing Ltd.