Page 24 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 30

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16
J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
under Library auspices. This new department was established in
the 1915-1916 season and courses in languages, economics and
history were given for a monthly fee of one dollar. All classes
were held in the evening in rooms loaned by a nearby Protestant
school. Several years later this program was discontinued, but it
was revived in 1940, when the Library was able to provide its
own accommodations. At this time the eminent writer Melech
Ravitch was appointed director, and courses in Jewish history,
Yiddish, world history and many other subjects were given at
a charge of twenty-five cents a lecture. The fees covered the
lecturer’s expenses and the Library paid the administration costs.
In 1954, with the exception of Yiddish, the language classes were
discontinued, since these were available elsewhere and the
Library's primary concern was Jewish culture. In 1966, all courses
ended.
The years following World War II saw the Library reach a
long-desired goal, the construction of its own building. A site
was purchased and the first of a series of building campaigns
was launched. The total cost amounted to $300,000, an immense
sum to be raised from supporters with modest income. At one
point construction was temporarily halted for lack of funds but
the building finally was completed in June, 1953, and formally
opened the following October.
The Library now possessed a Yiddish section of international
repute and a Hebrew collection which included old and rare
volumes as well as the works of modern scholars. The Bronfman
Collection of Jewish Canadiana contains all books published
in Canada by or about Jews or concerned with Jewish affairs, and
includes all publications in which Jews are mentioned. Among
the collection’s present total of 7,000 items are the invaluable
reference books compiled by David Rome,
A Bibliography of
Jews in Canadian Literature
and its supplement
Canadian Jew­
ish Authors and La Langue Frangaise,
and
A Preliminary Listing
of Canadian Jewish Periodicals
prepared by Mrs. G. Cukier.
Other significant groups include the Hyman Ressler Collection
of Hebrew Books, many of which date from the sixteenth century,
and the Boris Rappaport Collection of Hebrew Religious Clas­
sics, which comprise 500 volumes of rare interest.
The period which saw the Library’s building plans mature
also ended the era of chronic financial insecurity. In 1950 many
of the Jewish community services united to raise their funds
through the Combined Jewish Appeal, now administered by
the Allied Jewish Community Services. Since then, money received
from this source, plus grants from the Province of Quebec and
the City of Montreal, have done much to ease the Library’s
financial problems.