Fredericton Jewish History
Fredericton’s Jewish community dates back to 1896, with the arrival of Louis Levine of Minsk, Poland. The first Jewish family arrived around 1912. Many of Fredericton’s early Jewish immigrants spoke no English, could not read or write, and had no trade; many became peddlers. The community was closely knit, with most families living downtown, on King Street.
The congregation was incorporated in 1929. Services were held in the rabbi’s home, except for High Holiday services, which were held in the Orangemen’s Hall. By 1934 the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue had been built, and a cemetery was purchased in 1943. Until that time, community members had been buried in nearby Saint John, which had a larger Jewish community.
A Sisterhood and Hadassah chapter were formed by 1936, and a Habonim Lodge was started, ultimately replaced by a B’nai Brith. The Fredericton community was strongly Zionist. At that time, boys studied Hebrew at the rabbi’s home.
During World War II, about two thousand German and Austrian Jews, survivors of the Holocaust, were interned at Ripples, 34 kilometers east of Fredericton. About 500 of them went on a hunger strike, demanding kosher food. The Fredericton community helped provide kosher food and other comforts, as well as some religious instruction, to the internees, many of whom remained in Canada after the war.
At the present time the members of the Jewish community are entrepreneurs or employed by both the government and the university.
They are active supporters of many community organizations in the city.