May is Jewish Heritage Month in Canada, and the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the contributions of Jewish people to Canadian society and communities.
You may already be aware of some high-profile icons like actor William Shatner, musician and writer Leonard Cohen, and author Mordecai Richler. There are many others who are lesser known or less visible.
The NHL’s Hart Memorial Trophy, for example, was named for Montreal Canadiens head coach and general manager Cecil Hart, who was a direct descendant of the first Jewish settler in Canada. Hockey fans can read about Hart and the history of the Habs in The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory.
Rosalie Abella set many firsts in her career as a judge, including being the first Jewish woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. She is one of the many remarkable women featured in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women who Changed the World, a book of concise yet eye-opening biographies geared toward children and teens, but written in a sophisticated enough way that adults will enjoy it as well.
Ballerina and choreographer Celia Franca moved to Canada from England in 1951 to co-found the Canadian National Ballet. The book Passion to Dance: The National Ballet of Canada chronicles the history of the ballet company, including Franca’s 24 years as its artistic director.
Bibliophiles may already be familiar with award-winning journalist Eleanor Wachtel’s long-running radio program Writers & Company. You can listen to her in conversation with various authors on the CBC program, or borrow a copy of The Best of Writers & Company to read transcripts of 15 of her interviews with esteemed authors.
Here are some other titles in the Ottawa Public Library’s collection that would be a great read for Jewish Heritage Month:
Biographies of Jewish Canadians
Non-fiction by Jewish Canadians
Adult Fiction by Jewish Canadians
Children’s and Teen Fiction by Jewish Canadians
Jewish Food and Cooking