Ester Reiter Toronto
“Zingen far Sholem, Zingen far Broyt: Culture and Political Activism in the Jewish left in Canada”
For left, secular Jews, cultural life and political activism were inseparable. The rich cultural life of the secular Jewish left reflected and nurtured a socialist, internationalist and proudly Jewish heritage. From the first years of their arrival in Canada, in the early twentieth century, secular Jews demonstrated a profound determination to keep their language, politics and culture alive, a commitment that has continued into the twenty-first century. Their cultural life, emerging from its East European roots, was central to transforming all aspects of their new life in Canada. Jewish radicals established theatre groups, musical groups, dance troupes, a significant literary milieu, and popular education initiatives along with, and linked to, trade unions and political organizations. The talk is based on Ester’s research for her recently published book, A Future Without Hate or Need: the Promise of the Jewish left in Canada. Accompanying the talk will be a power point presentation using archival photos. Ester is a professor emeritus from York University where she taught in the School of Women’s Studies. She grew up in the secular Jewish left in New York, and is a member of the United Jewish Peoples Order in Toronto. Her knowledge of Yiddish made this research possible.