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How Canada’s Jewish community mobilized for World War II: Ellin speaks at Fort York, Toronto
September 21, 2019 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT
Although Canada’s Jewish community was a tiny minority in 1939 when Canada declared war in 1939, the Jewish community of 168,000 mobilized men, money and even kosher salamis to help fight Hitler. Among the million Canadians who donned a military uniform were nearly 17,000 Canadian men and women of Jewish faith, or about 40 per cent of the eligible population. As part of Fort York’s commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the start of World War ll, A City Mobilizes, Toronto author and journalist Ellin Bessner speaks about some of the most famous Jewish volunteers, including comedians Wayne and Shuster, game show host Monty Hall, Tip Top Tailors magnate Ben Dunkelman, Senators David Croll and Jack Marshall, Montreal hockey star Moe Hurwitz, Ed Mirvish’s brother Robert, and from Winnipeg, the brother of David Steinberg, now a Hollywood comic legend. As Bessner writes in her new book, “Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military and WWII”, although you would think Canada’s army would have been happy to accept these eager military volunteers, widespread antisemitism both at home, in the government, and on the battlefield, posed a big obstacle for Jewish recruits. What’s more — being Jewish posed a great personal risk to those who did go overseas, should they be captured by the enemy and their Jewish identities be discovered. Books will be available for sale, and signing at the event.