By Harold Troper
The Sixties witnessed an intensive transformation within the Canadian Jewish neighborhood. The erosion of longstanding limitations of anti-Semitism ended in elevated entry for Jews to the commercial, political, and social Canadian mainstream. Arguing sarcastically that whilst Canada turned extra accepting, Canadian Jews grew to become extra thinking about Jewish identification, The Defining Decade examines how the Nineteen Sixties redefined what it intended to be a Canadian Jew and a Jewish Canadian.
Domestic occasions akin to the Quiet Revolution, the eruption of Neo-Nazi task, the election of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, and the promise of multiculturalism mixed with overseas affairs akin to the Six Day warfare, Arab rejectionism with reference to Israel, and the explosion of Soviet Jewish activisim to appreciably reshape Canadian Jewish priorities. In tracing the speedy adjustments of this tumultuous decade, Harold Troper attracts upon a wealth of historic documentation, together with greater than 80 interviews, to illustrate that the expression of Canadian Jewishness used to be an more and more public - and political - commitment.
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Extra info for The Defining Decade: Identity, Politics, and the Canadian Jewish Community in the 1960s
On one side there were those, especially in the Jewish establishment, who advocated a moderate and incremental approach to solving the problem of antisemitism – working with likeminded groups, opinion leaders, educators, and the media to educate and lobby government for legislative remedies and, to whatever degree possible, avoiding the politics of confrontation. On the other side were those more at a distance from the Jewish establishment – including those identiﬁed with immigrant and Yiddishist groups and those 34 The Deﬁning Decade with a more radical bent – who chafed at what they regarded as the Jewish establishment’s ‘cap in hand’ sha shtil (hush hush) approach to combating antisemitism.
2 But, for the most part, Jews in Quebec and French Canadians continued to view one another from opposite sides of a wall built of historical, linguistic, religious, and institutional difference. Nor was this the only wall that divided Montreal Jews from others. Montreal Jews also felt cordoned off from an economically dominant, English-speaking and Protestant establishment widely regarded as tainted by deep-seated antipathy to Jews, which was returned in kind. Thus, Montreal Jews understood themselves as forming a separate estate not just from French Canadians but from other English-speaking Montrealers, an estate Mordecai Richler described as ‘an almost self contained world.
Many Canadian Jews had American family and vacationed in the United States. 31 It has been commonly offered that there is no substantive difference between the Canadian and American Jewish communities, or at least none that time would not eliminate. Ca- 22 The Deﬁning Decade nadian Jews, it has often been said, are just American Jews one generation removed. If Canadian Jews prove a little more ‘Jewish’ than their American cousins, if they still retain a lingering closeness to old-world Yiddishkeit and tend to be more traditional in religious observance, all that can be assumed as temporary.