Shalom Shaarei Zedek

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Shalom Shaarei Zedek



On the weekend, I had the privilege to attend Shalom Shaarei Zedek, the first reunion of ex-pats of the saint John Jewish Community in 25 years, when they held Koom Ahaim. The Saint John Jewish community was founded in 1858, 150 years ago, by Solomon and Alice Hart, he being a tobacconist. The early immigration was primarily sephardic being followed by an Ashkenazi wave starting in the early 1890s. The reason for the reunion was the sale of the synagogue and the Museum as part of the North of Union project. After Friday evening service the President was able to announce the re-location to the former Cavanaugh Funeral Home merely blocks away. The site had for many years been the home of the Chevra Kadisha.

The current syanagogue was founded in 1919 located in what had been a Presbyterian church built in 1865. A community which once had 300 families now often has difficulty achieving a minyan. It was wonderful to see almost 150 people at Saturday services. The new location will better serve the needs of a aging and decreasing population.

One of the higlights for me was seeing Lee Cohen aliyot. Lee is one of Canada's foremost immigration lawyers based in Halifax. Also in attendance were a former Senator and a former NS leiutenant governor, both originally from Saint John.

They auctioned off a painting by Herzl Kashetzky of the interior of the synagogue for $19 000.


All right, this is off topic, but I'm telling it anyway since your interesting account sparked the memory.

About a month ago, a neighbour (very orthodox Jew, of Sephardic origin) sent his teenaged son to bang on our door just after supper.

I answered, saying: "What's the matter?", in response to his anxious look.

He replied: "I'm sorry to bother you, but it's my Dad - can you come right away?"

"What's wrong? Is he all right??"

"Yeah, he's fine. It's just that we've got visitors, but we're short one for a minyon."

"But, but, I'm an atheist!"

"Yeah, my Dad said you would say that, but he said ask him to please come anyway. We need a minyon."

So, to my everlasting combination of bemusement and amusement, I went. First time in many many years. Thank God atheists don't have a Hell for people like me.

Ok, sorry for the drift, back to the topic:

How many Jews are left in Saint John - and is it the biggest community in NB?


Thanks for the story Unionist. If they are short one for a minyan here, they often count the Torah.

Saint John would be the third largest in NB with about 30 families and 85 individuals. Fredericton would be slightly larger with Moncton being the largest with between 40-50 families.


Oh, that is funny. I have a similar story from Paris, but I'd rather get back to the history of the Jewish community in Saint John.

Do you have this on the National archive of Jewish History (forget actual name but you must have it - accessible through the National Library and Archives)?

The Jewish community in Quйbec City underwent a similar decline, but is making efforts to achieve and maintain a stable presence. New rabbi is originally from Paris.

The history section and timeline don't seem complete:


The website for the Saint John Jewish Historical Museum is [url=][/url]

The second edition of the Community's history by Marcia Koven is hot off the presses. So hot off the presses that I haven't even purchased my copy yet.

[ 05 August 2008: Message edited by: Caissa ]



Saint John would be the third largest in NB with about 30 families and 85 individuals. Fredericton would be slightly larger with Moncton being the largest with between 40-50 families.

Some historical context to add. And Caissa may want to add more, or correct me.

Saint John is the earliest and greatest of NB's cities and mercantile centres. It thrived in the 19th Century when the Maritimes in general were prosperous, and it at least rivaled Halifax.

I'm neither Jewish or native to the Maritimes- but it was my impression even before I came here that Saint John historically had the most thriving Jewish community.

Before I came here I knew 2 Jews themselves born in Vancouver and Toronto in the 50s, but whose families were rooted in Saint John.

My guess is that Moncton would have the largest NB Jewish community simply because it has had a growing economy in the post-war era, while Saint John's has steadily shrunk until very recently. So there was more to keep native born folks in Moncton, and more for outsiders to come to.


I'm from the states and relatively new to Saint John. My same-sex spouse and I recently got married, thanks to the right to do so here in Canada. We're wondering whether the conservative Jewish congregation in Saint John would affirm our relationship, or whether we would be better off going with the Unitarians. Since this site is supposed to be free of homophobia, I'm hoping my question will not offend anyone.



Star Spangled C...


My understanding is that in the United States, the main governing body of Conservative Judaism passed a resolution supporting officiating at same-sex ceremonies (I know they will also give smicha - rabbinic ordination- to gays). Many (likely msot?) Canadian shuls are members of the American organization so would follow their policies. However, I know some shuls both in teh states and Canada ahve broken away from the organization in protest of these decisions, sorta like how some Anglican churches have splintered off. The simplest thing would probably to just call up the rabbi and ask.

Unionist, your "minyan emerency" story is all too familiar to me. There's a Chabad rabbi in town who supervises the kosher food at my hospital and visits Jews who are staying here. Whenever my pager goes off with the note "770" that's his code that I'm needed to fill a minyan and I have a hard time saying no to the sick.


I just sent you a PM, EJW. re. your question.


And while we're on the subject of PMs.... I wanted to send one to you Caissa... one of the many things I cant figure out on the new Babble


You go to my inbox and click on compose. It's pretty straightforward from there. Yes, PMs were easier on the Old babble as were most things. I just sent you a PM that you can reply to.