National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, Toronto

Our History


In 1893, when Hannah Solomon was asked to organize the participation of Jewish Women at the Chicago World Fair, and discovered that their participation would not be substantive, she and her delegates walked out. The role of Jewish women and the nature of volunteerism had changed.

In 1897, NCJWC was born in Toronto – 4 years after NCJW had been established in Chicago,. It was the first Jewish Women’s organization in Canada. Today, we have sections in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver, and members in other Canadian cities.

It was then and still is a volunteer service organization dedicated to identifying Jewish and Non-Jewish community needs and providing leadership, energy, and financial resources to bring about meaningful changes.

Faith and Humanity continue to be a guiding principle of National Council of Jewish Women of Canada. There is an abiding faith in the future and an equally strong belief in the ultimate good that results in the practice of a humane way of life.


Victorian Women Council founded in Toronto. Charter Members organize English, sewing and integration skill classes for new Canadian Women.


Carried wide range of projects and philanthropic work.


Opened Jewish working girls club at 254 McCaul Street.


Started service to foreign born / Hospital public ward visiting.


World War 1 – Council quarters became Red Cross Center during WW1.


Organized first Canadian Big Sisters Committee for girls ages 9-17. To assist in improving home conditions and mother and daughter relationships.


First Council Girl Guide Troupe formed by Ada List. Average attendance was 120 girls per week.


Junior Council acquires Fairview Cottage. Housed 30 girls per week during 15 weeks of Summer. This was the precursor of Camp Camperdown for girls and the forerunner of the Jewish Camp Council.


Purchased Community House at 44 St. George Street on Council’s Silver Anniversary to serve Jewish Girls clubs.


Jewish Girls Club was born. Activities included ESL, typing, athletics and housing for homeless girls.


Purchased Surrey Cottage at Bronte for girls summer holidays.


Added full size gymnasium and shower rooms at 44 St. George Street to promote youth activities.


Girls clubs grow in size to 1,000 members.


Purchased camp Camperdown for girls to replace the Fairview and Surrey Cottage (260 girls).


Community House became Jewish community center to service Boys and Girls. Nursery Schools opens at 44 St George Street.


Canadian Division of NCJWC begins. It is renamed NCJW of Canada.


Council became national organization uniting 4,000 women across Canada. Council granted Music scholarships to Toronto Conservatory of Music and Settlement School.


Started Katie Josephiti Emillio Davis Scholarship to students at the University of Toronto for Vocational training.


Council serviced over 500,000 members of armed forces. Community House became Canadian Jewish Congress Serviceman’s Center.


Council joins with YMHA and B’nai Brith to form the Jewish Camp Council with the United Jewish Welfare fund.


Council increased war services through Red Cross sewing. Toronto Section hosts over 500,000 members of the Armed Forces. Council women serve as hostesses, receptionists, librarians, canteen assistants and kitchen helpers. 9 mobile blood units are donated to Red Cross – 1 for each Province. Ship a Box projects are organized throughout council.


Council housed teenage activities of YMHA Service to New Canadians in crisis-rehabilitation. Council’s camp program for Youth continued through Jewish Camp Council. Council extended its programs of service and education overseas to Europe and Israel.


National Council is the first Lay organization to give a grant to Canadian Mental Health Association for Research in the field of Mental Health.


Council gave emergency shelter to new Canadians – Housed in gymnasium. CJW sponsors children’s orphanages in Holland, France and Switzerland.


Spearheaded public interest in promoting Legislation for fair employment protection act in Ontario with Canadian Jewish Congress.


Good Age Club begins at Council House providing social and recreational programs for seniors. Housed the Welfare Council’s pre-natal clinic classes.


Welcome Centre opens at Council House to assist integration for new Canadians. Council made room for new program for Youth groups, sponsored by Canadian Jewish Congress.


Housed Bureau of Jewish Education for Teachers Training Courses.


Council pledges $10,000.00 over a 5 year period to help purchase a new day camp site.


2,400 meals are served at Council House during the week of Passover.


Good Age Club at Council House becomes a successful centre for Senior Citizens. It is named the Betel Centre For Creative Living, and is housed in its own building.


Kosher Meals on Wheels. HEAD START program is piloted in North York 4 mornings a week. This program becomes the North York Board of Education Junior Kindergarten.


Block Parents program originates with NCJW, London, Ontario. ADULT BASIC LITERACY is held 5 times a week. PRE-SCHOOL programs are running concurrently with both language classes. HUMAN RIGHTS DAY – World Jewry Committee addresses plight of the Refuseniks.


ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE, is taught to Moroccan mothers and children twice a week. ADULT BASIC LITERACY is held 5 times a week. PRE-SCHOOL programs are running concurrently with both language classes. HUMAN RIGHTS DAY – World Jewry Committee addresses plight of the Refuseniks.


Toronto Society for the Jewish Hearing Impaired (TSJHI) begins at Council House.


Council members host CITIZEN COURT on a monthly basis at 55 St. Clair Avenue East A public forum is held at Council House ” The Jewish Disabled in our Community – A Time for Action”. This was co-sponsored with the Canadian Jewish Congress, which led to the formation of TASK FORCE ON JEWISH PERSON WITH DISABILITIES.


“On the Move” booklet is published by the combined Task Force. In conjunction with the Jewish Family and Child Services, Jewish Immigrant Aid Services and the Board of Jewish Education, the Passover Food Drive begins. The Kosher for Passover program started with 25 boxes and continues to grow as the numbers of people requiring the basics necessary items to celebrate Passover increases.


“TWO WAY STREET”, a film featuring Jewish disabled is produced. Facilitators are trained by NCJWC to show the film to the community.


Kids On The Block puppet, a program featuring a life-size puppet show continues to be presented to groups of up to 250 elementary school children.


“Private Violence” a symposium dealing with battered women, rape, violent pornography and child abuse is sponsored by 5 Jewish women’s community Organizations.


NCJW FOUNDATION – Bathurst / Prince Charles is a fully integrated housing project I-this is a fully accessible housing project. Affordable housing for seniors and families is combined with independent accommodation for the disabled. Education programs and holiday celebrations are held on a regular basis.


Family Abuse forums begin – “Women in Power”, panel discussions are held discussing the role of women.


Women in Politics – issues and perspectives. A Referendum on Charlottetown Accord.


Taking Charge by Taking Care – Breast Self Examination program initiated by Toronto Section and co-sponsored by the Canadian Breast Caner Foundation.


Citizenship classes held at Council House. Formation of Young Women’s Group. Kids on the Block partners with Epilepsy Association, Canadian Diabetes, Spina Bifida, Arthritis Society, CNIB, Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy.


Taking Charge by Taking Care – Wellness for Women, topics include Osteoporosis, Menopause, Safety for Women. Assistance to the homeless through clothing donations to shelters. Co-sponsor Forums on Racism at St Lawrence Centre. Canada is twinned with Croatia in helping elderly Jewish people with programs and recreation.


Centennial Celebrations Opening of Archival Exhibit at Multi-cultural Historical Society of Ontario. Established the “Helen Weisbrod Memorial Scholarship”.


Child Poverty – Breakfast Club was initiated to provide a nutritional breakfast to children in a subsided apartment building. Toronto Section initiated involvement with 10 Women’s shelters, by providing household items, furniture and clothing.


Child Poverty Second Breakfast Club, in cooperation with Topcliff Junior School, North York. Lunch & Learn for Seniors. Multi-faceted puppet programs dealing with such topics as aging, elder abuse, inter-generational programs. Out of the Shelter Women’s Support Club, a program for women and their children. Now assisting 11 women’s shelters. Seniors program, and Outreach to those who may be vulnerable and falling through the cracks and make them aware of current Seniors’ Services.


Lunch & Learn for Seniors’ name is changed to Susan Zajdner Seniors Lunch and Learn Program – Educational speakers, outings and activities in a warm social setting where participants are welcomed with a hot meal and interesting programmes.


International Snack Program providing nutritious hot & cold snacks for school children. Reading Angels, a reading recovery program helping children to discover the wonders other printed word. Nan’ Pops Family an educational puppet project dealing with seniors ‘issues, abuse, racism, illness, stereotypes, disability and cultural differences. Lilac Project,- Living is for Learning and Caring. A fundraising umbrella for NCJWC-TS numerous charitable activities, with each year the project choosing a partner to share in the campaign proceeds. Think Pink Campaign educates, raises awareness & money for breast cancer research in partnership with the Princess Margaret Hospital. Jewish Genetic Diseases Awareness and Screening Project launched to educated and create awareness of Jewish genetic diseases in the Jewish community.


Susan Zajdner Seniors Lunch and Learn changed to The Susan Zajdener & Fay Mosoff Seniors’ Lunch & Learn program. This program provides education speakers, outings and activities in a warm social setting where participants are welcomed with a meal and interesting programs. Seniors Educational Current Events program, Education speakers, outings and activities in a warm social setting where participants are welcomed with a hot meal and interesting programs.


Simcha Baskets introduced- these were used in lieu of a flower arrangement for a table centerpiece for various occasions. Women’s Support & Care Group, holds weekly meetings to enable former residents of women’s shelters and other isolated women to socialize, network and share information with others. Special events and speakers scheduled periodically.


HeART and Soul Art and Silent Auction was initiated on a trial basis as a major Toronto Section fundraiser, this event took place at the Capitol Event Theatre with over 225 tickets sold. Passover Food Drive expands to support those who have left the confines of a shelter, shut-ins, students living away from home, the incarcerated and their families, those on a fixed income, the disabled and seniors. They also provide a Seder meal for the homeless. NCJWC-TS holds its first in a series of Depression Symposium conferences, which raises awareness about depression and other mental illnesses throughout the community, with moderators, keynote and guest speakers including psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. The “Just for me Backpack” program is launched – Backpacks are filled with items which children can treasure and call their own. These children have fled abusive homes with their mothers.


New branches formed the first of its kind – Single Women’s Branches. These branches function in the same way as other NCJWC Branches, but are for women in their 20’s – 60’s. HeART and Soul Art and Silent Auction second event held at the York Event Theatre. Art ranging from watercolours and oils to lithographs and sculptures. The Toronto Jewish Quilting Group is adopted by NCJWC-TS. Interested volunteers hand sew beautiful quilts to be gifted for people touched by cancer.


Drive for Dreidels, a Chanukah Toy Drive begins at Council House. Toronto Sections forms a partnership with Jewish Family & Child and the Shear-Cooper Family. New unwrapped toys will be collected and then distributed.


Gift of Life Program, Councils Organ and Tissue Donation Project in partnership with Trillium Gift of Life Network kicks off. L’Chaim Cancer Support Group for Jewish Women affiliates with Toronto Section. Communication for the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, National office is assumed by the Toronto Office. Summer Closet Sale is launched following Yachad Branch June Garage Sale. Mah-Jong lessons begin at Council House every Wednesday afternoon. Another opportunity for women to get together to socialize and learn.


Kids on the Block assumes the mantle of Teaching Awareness Through Puppetry to better tailor its programming to the Canadian/Toronto cultural context and needs. Jewish Genetic Awareness Week is launched to promote awareness for the continued need for screening. Afternoon lecture series are initiated to meet the interests of members and general community.


Books for Kids project is realized as Toronto Section partners with Toronto Foundation for Student Success by sponsoring their “Beyond 3.30 Boys Book Club” at Dr Marion Hilliard Senior Public School. Spinning Yarns, a knitting group, initiated. Annual Summer Closet continues. An annual Health Symposium Lecture program is launched. Open to the community, the first program featured a symposium on vision loss.


Gift of Life Program, Organ and Donation Program is adopted by National Council of Jewish Women of Canada.


National Council of Jewish Women of Canada, Toronto partners with National Council of Jewish Women of Canada to increase public awareness of Human Trafficking.


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