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Heritage Toronto 2021 Awards

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October 7, 2021

Peddler in Kensington Market
Peddler in Kensington Market, The OJA Presents: A Trip to the Market, 2021 Heritage Toronto Awards nominee. Image: Justine Apple.

Congratulations to the Ontario Jewish Archives and the Miles Nadal JCC who are nominated for the 2021 Heritage Toronto Awards in the Public History and Community Heritage categories. Winners will be announced at the 2021 Heritage Toronto Awards, which will be held virtually on Monday, October 18 2021. Mazel Tov to all the nominees!

2021 Public History Awards recognize multi-media and collaborative projects specifically designed to engage, challenge, and educate the public.  

The OJA Presents: A Trip to the Market
Presented by: The Ontario Jewish Archives 
Date of Release: May 1, 2019

In May 2019, the Ontario Jewish Archives toured close to 3,000 students from grades 6–10 through Kensington Market as part of a collaborative initiative with the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Urban Studies Centre at the Kensington Community School, Ashkenaz Foundation, the Kiever Synagogue, and actor Ishai Buchbinder as a live street peddler. The tours ran twice daily for the entire month and were delivered by TUSC teachers. They included a stop inside the historic Kiever Synagogue. An OJA-produced video and a teacher resource package were also included.

Built upon the OJA’s Stories of Spadina walking tour, the goals were to present the challenges and opportunities of living in early twentieth-century Toronto, to foster an understanding of local Jewish history, and to encourage contemporary connections between the historic experiences of Jewish Torontonians and other immigrant populations. The content of the tour highlighted the universal commonalities between current immigrant experiences and those of the early Jewish settlers: the need for community; the importance of cultural, religious, and linguistic connections to one’s past; and the challenges faced by minority populations in new countries.

A Trip to the Market was supported by a Kultura Collective project grant.

Jewish Queer Community in the 1980s and 1990s through the Collections of Johnny Abush
Creator: Liv Mendelsohn
Date of Release: February 7, 2019

Drawing on the long-forgotten collections of amateur archivist Johnny Abush (housed at the ArQuives and ONE Archives USC), along with research through the Ontario Jewish Archives, and new oral history interviews, this exhibition traced the early history of Jewish Queer community in Toronto, a history that has never before received a spotlight.

Housed at the Miles Nadal JCC, this exhibit brought this history to the centre of community — tracing early gay, lesbian and trans social and ritual organizations like Chutzpah!, the rejection from mainstream community, the impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and the activism and community building that has lead to a robust Queer Jewish community day. More than 4000 visitors saw the exhibit in person from July 1-August 5, 2019, and it now lives on in digital form online at the ArQuives. The opening night event brought together oral history interviewees together with queer youth and a legacy was shared for the first time.

The 2021 Community Heritage Award nominees represent wide-ranging engagement with Toronto’s communities. From archival collections to artistic performances and film festivals  to periodical newspapers,  the work of these organizations go beyond preserving our shared histories to actively building our shared communities.

Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre

Since 1973, the Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA), Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre has been preserving the stories of Ontario’s Jewish community. It is the largest repository of Jewish life in Canada, containing millions of individual documents, photographs, films, posters, artifacts, oral histories, and architectural drawings. Reaching all the way back to the 1850s, the historical records explore virtually every aspect of Jewish daily life in Ontario. By making their collections publicly accessible, the OJA hopes that their resources can be useful to students, teachers, academics, artists, and families exploring their own heritage. 

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