The OJA offers Elementary Level Workshops to bring the archives into your classroom, as well as University Level Workshops with a focus on information literacy workshops.


oja community parade
Jewish community parade to commemorate the Balfour Declaration (St. Catharines, ON), 1917. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, item 417. Photograph by Franklin Caplan.

The OJA offers Elementary Level Workshops to bring the archives into your classroom with our innovative, curriculum-based programs, as well as University Level Workshops with a focus on information literacy workshops can be tied into class assignments to further develop undergraduate research skills.

Contact to learn more about the OJA’s workshops for students and learners of all ages.

Elementary Level Workshops

The OJA is collaborating with Toronto’s Jewish day schools to introduce students to the various local Jewish histories that are held in its collection, providing them with an opportunity to consider their own presence in this continuing story. Students will come out of the experience with a better understanding of the local Jewish past as well as an understanding of their contribution to contemporary Jewish life in Toronto and the province. This collaboration encourages students to appreciate the idea that “being Jewish” today allows for various interpretations and manifestations, all valued and equally important in today’s multicultural and diverse society.

The OJA works with teachers to identify themes and curriculum topics that have connections with material in its collection. Two different models for presenting the material are being developed. For Paul Penna, the OJA is developing a lesson plan to do classroom visits with the students. For Bialik, the OJA is working with teachers to forward material related to their topics. In both models, the material presented infuses the social sciences with local Jewish content, making connections between the historical content and the students own lives.

Possible themes for each grade:

1)      Immigration
2)      Community service
3)      Urban vs. rural
4)      Tikkun olam
5)      How to build a community
6)      Celebrations/Jewish milestones

Students will be asked to think about:

  • how these themes fit within their current lives
  • how they and their families participate in these various parts of Jewish life
  • how these stories from the past relate to their lives

Questions will be used to guide discussion, such as: Where did your parent or grandparents live and grow up? What kind of Tikkun Olam projects do you do? How do you celebrate Shabbat, Passover, etc.?

NOTE: This project was piloted with both Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School and Bialik Hebrew Day School for the 2012-2013 school year to much success. References are available upon request.

Please click here to learn more about the Jewish Mosaic Museum project at Paul Penna.

Please click here to learn more about the current Masoret program with Bialik Hebrew Day School.

Please contact us to arrange a partnership with your school.

University Level Workshops

Since 2013, the OJA has partnered with Prof. David Koffman of York University to bring undergraduate students into the Archives.  A two-hour information literacy workshop was developed for Koffman’s 3rd year Canadian Jewish history class that required students to submit a paper using original research. The workshop was held at the OJA, which provided students with an on-site experience.  They then came back on their own time to work with an archivist to source appropriate records for their research paper.

This workshop provides students with a basic understanding of the differences between primary and secondary sources, the role archives play within the broader information service sector, as well as how to interpret and evaluate archival records when conducting historical research. The workshop identifies the concepts of provenance, context of creation, reliability and authenticity. It provides students with an introduction to critical literacy skills including the ability to recognize creator intent and bias. Students are not expected to exhibit any prior knowledge of or interaction with primary sources, nor are they expected to have any understanding of the role of archives in the field of information services.

The workshop is divided into three instructional units:

  • a lecture by an OJA archivist on the role of archives and the concept of a record.
  • a small-group activity, designed to draw on the five components of the historical inquiry process: formulate questions; gather and organize; interpret and analyze; evaluate and draw conclusions; and communicate.
  • a discussion session for students to share the results of their group findings with the rest of the class.

Upon completion of this workshop, students are able to:

  • Formulate questions about the content and context of an archival record in order to guide investigation.
  • Critically interpret the record and analyze information present and not present in the record.
  • Evaluate and draw conclusions about the meaning and intent of the record.
  • Identify the relevance of the record to specific research interests.
  • Communicate their ideas to their classmates.

This workshop is easily adaptable to meet varying course requirements in the humanities and social sciences. The OJA is happy to work with university professors to develop similar workshops for their students.

Please contact us for more information or to discuss possibilities for your university class.

Click here to read some of the student papers written using the OJA’s archives.

Presented by:

A Kultura Collective Member

Start Date: December 1, 2021

Closing Date: December 1, 2025


Midtown Toronto

Ontario Jewish Archives
Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto
Sherman Campus
4600 Bathurst Street
Toronto, Ontario M2R 3V2





If accessibility options not listed, please contact the venue to confirm


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