The Tomorrow Campaign is the story of a community’s journey. Although this story is focused on the present and the future, neither could exist before understanding some of the history of Toronto’s Jewish community.
The Jewish community of Toronto can trace its roots back to the 1800s. As the Jews of Eastern Europe, living under oppression and persecution, fled their towns and villages, many arrived in Toronto seeking freedom and a brighter future.
Regardless of which shtetl the new Torontonians came from and any hardships they faced, they all shared one common vision: a city that could sustain a growing population and fulfill their need to live vibrant Jewish lives.
In 1917, Toronto’s first Jewish federation — the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies — was incorporated, replacing the unorganized collection of individual Jewish charities, each knocking on doors and raising funds for their own causes. The Federation’s primary responsibility was fundraising for what was to become United Jewish Appeal.
As Toronto’s Jews became an increasingly organized, unified force, so too did their dreams. Understanding that the Jewish community would continue to grow due to the waves of immigration flooding into Toronto, their dreams turned to building a city where Jews could flourish and succeed.
In 1930 the YMHA (Young Men’s Hebrew Association)was born, offering members various programming opportunities in rented rooms in the Brunswick Avenue and College Street area. By 1953 a new facility was built — the Bloor Street "Y" at Bloor and Spadina — today the Miles Nadal JCC, to house the growing membership of a burgeoning community.
As Jewish life began moving north up the Bathurst Street corridor, so too did the Jewish facilities and services. 1958 saw the groundbreaking of the North "Y," later named the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre.
Building for the
A tradition of one generation building Jewish infrastructure for the next was born. Many of the visionaries who worked tirelessly to ensure that the North "Y" was built, would never use the facility, live near it, or benefit personally from it. Nor would their own children. But these visionaries understood that a strong Jewish identity is fostered in a robust Jewish city, and the way to keep a community thriving is to keep meeting its needs.
UJA Federation’s Tomorrow Campaign is the next logical link in the chain that has connected Toronto’s Jewish community from one generation to the next. It is the Campaign that has worked to revolutionize Jewish Toronto, bringing our community to the forefront of innovation. It is the Campaign that will raise $400 million dollars to continue the tradition of building infrastructure to preserve and enrich Jewish identity and culture. It is the Campaign that will change the landscape of Jewish Toronto forever.