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Celebrating Jewish Heritage Month

Jewish Heritage Month / Mois du patrimoine juif on a blue background

May 04, 2021

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

I'm your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen

Live Long And . . .: What I Learned Along the Way

Distilled: A Memoir of Family, Seagram, Baseball, and Philanthropy

Non-fiction by Jewish Canadians

A Grain of Salt: The Science and Pseudoscience of What We Eat

Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives

Dead Mom Walking: A Memoir of Miracle Cures and Other Disasters

How to Change Everything: The Young Human's Guide to Protecting the Planet and Each Other

Adult Fiction by Jewish Canadians

Immigrant City

You’ve Been Volunteered

The Imposter Bride

A Brightness Long Ago

Children’s and Teen Fiction by Jewish Canadians

The Magician's Secret

Poesy the Monster Slayer

It's A Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes, and Other Jewish Stories


Jewish Food and Cooking

Modern Jewish Cooking

Modern Jewish Baker

Second Helpings, Please!

The 100 Most Jewish Foods: A Highly Debatable List