James’ Brand New Blog

A brief history of anti-Semitism in London

- January 19th, 2012

Toronto author Bill Gladstone spoke to the London & Middlesex Historical Society on Wednesday. It was a chance for him to revisit his A History of the Jewish Community of London Ontario,  which was published last year & greeted by a standing-room-only crowd at the Jewish Community Centre.

Technical issues prevented the power point from being used the way Bill hoped to at the Middlesex County building aka the old court house . . . what he had to say was fascinating and at several points disturbing or worse.

For once, JBNBlog will focus on the negative.

London’s first Jewish resident on record was a merchant named Jay Ezekiel. A mid-1850s business report said: “He was a rascally Israelite not to be trusted on any account.” Ezekiel soon left for Detroit.

Later in the talk, Bill mentioned Isidore Goldstick who was not hired by UWO, despite having a PhD. An admired high school teacher at Beck and Central, Goldstick also published text books. Bill said his career “ceilinged” at the high school level with UWO unwilling to hire him. After the talk, I told him about Selwyn Dewdney’s having resigned his teaching job in the 1940s to protest the London board refusing to give Goldstick a promotion for which he was eminently qualified because he was a Jew. Bill had spoken to Goldstick’s daughter in New York about the prejudice his father faced, but he took down Selwyn’s name so I am not sure if he had that background beforehand. He also noted the title of the Dewdney novel about high school teaching in the 1940s, Wind Without Rain.

In addition, Bill Gladstone said both the Hunt Club and the London Club finally admitted Jews in the 1960s after pressure from the Jewish community here & the wider Londonworld.

All of this is not so long ago. Bill Gladstone said much else in Wednesday’s talk & JBNBlog should catch up with his book someday soon . . . for now, he has helped me appreciate the diverse London of 2012, not perfect either, and hardly without prejudice, but no longer stained in the same way.

 

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26 comments

  1. LONDON CLUBMEN says:

    It took until we had a lady Mayor to open those doors to wifes-of,
    ladyfriends-of, even mothers and daughters of -
    Hope you’re watching the Jubilee plans in the other London -
    focuses on the river that runs through. Re VR it was the
    huge carriage procession.
    Maybe the people of this London could stir up some pageantry
    on our Thames. Maybe a recreation of one of the Harris boys
    shooting a brown bear? Or little Gene Lockhart being rescued
    by Michael Gilligan who got a medal from the City, it is said.
    Etc etc.
    Can the Historicals come up with some cheap and easy little
    Jubilee souvenir to be presented to each school child to
    show his or her great-grandchildren in future years?
    Has Museum London any souvenirs of the 1897 one ?

  2. Elaine Murray says:

    Still out there, but hidden for the most part. During the by-election of 2006 in London North centre by-election, it reared its ugly head. A pamphlet was circulated with a cartoon character of Stephen Harper depicted as a Jew, the pamphlet telling people not to vote conservative. What was the most disturbing about the pamphlet is that it specifically targeted Jewish homes in the area. Sending a clear message to the owners of those homes, they knew where they lived, and they knew they were Jewish.There was a half assed attempt by the police to find out if it was the liberal or ndp members, or both, behind it.

  3. james.reaney says:

    Thought about decrying the sexism which continued long after . . . thanks for the perspective. As for the historical events, well, at Wednesday’s meeting Dan Brock said he had just learned of a 1914 Old Boys reunion for the first time that night. Maybe some material from it would surprise & delight us all.

  4. james.reaney says:

    Vile as it sounds, the leaflet would be something for the archives. I have never heard of it before . . . let me say, from my knowledge of all the campaigners in that byelection, all would have rejected & exposed its slimy creators with vigour.
    That said, there was a pretty vile piece of propaganda about . . . the Conservatives’ “they’re soft on crime” attack signs.

  5. Elaine Murray says:

    I don’t have one James, but I am sure the producer, and perhaps the families that were targeted do. B’nai brith would have one as they wrote about it at the time. Let us not forget when Bob Rae was running for the leadership of the liberals, not this time, yet, but last time the outright rejection of him as the leader because his wife is Jewish.

  6. AFITC* says:

    If I’m not mistaken, founder of UWO, Bishop Hellmuth, was born and raised Jewish but later converted to Christianity. I wonder how they danced around that during the time of Isidore Goldstick…

  7. james.reaney says:

    Thanks as always, Face . . . Hellmuth was one of several prominent 19th-century Londoners, Jews who converted to Anglicanism. Bill Gladstone mentioned Hellmuth and the oll barons Spencer and Englehart (the London Tecumsehs owner too) as Jews who became Christians, but not he felt because of any coercion.
    The Spencer connection provided an amusing play on words in Gladstone’s talk — which was of course much more wide-ranging than my summary here .. . a former Spencer mansion is now the base to Temple Israel (of London) synagogue . . . . asked if Temple Israel was in a “converted house,” Bill smiled that yes it was & went on to make the Spencer connection.

  8. LONDON CLUBMEN says:

    Bob Rae’s own ancestry includes some of the Jewish faith. Rdiculous to
    state that Party delegates voted on the basis of religion. Better document
    some of these accusations, Elaine, before seeking to publish them. They
    are racist in nature, even if meant to be on the side of the gods.
    Remember when a Catholic could not be elected President in the USA
    - until one was.
    - No need to Decry events of the past – those of today won’t necessarily
    be lauded in the future. That’s just the story, and it is interesting to see
    the evolution of equalities. Women had their own groups and weren’t
    necessarily wanting to be members of the old boys’ ones, until it became
    a matter of competitive money-making careers.
    The 1914 OBR would be fascinating, end of the golden era of peace, on
    the eve of of world conflict. Mayor 1912-14 is Charles Milton RIchardson
    Graham, a name that reappears in CEF Attestations at LAC as Lieut. Colonel,
    no docs shown. Is his Mayor’s Gallery portrait in uniform..? Could Patrick
    Maloney take a look?

  9. LONDON CLUBMEN says:

    If I were Jewish genealogist Gladstone, I would not be pleased at my
    presentation being described as focusing on anti-Semitism in London.
    Surely his approach was not that shallow – us bad guys, them victims ?
    For those of the Yuppie and following generations – when denouncing
    actions of society in the past, it would be responsible to ask where
    your own parents as members of this community were when they were
    taking place…

  10. LONDON CLUBMEN says:

    Isn’t a one-time London synagogue a First Nations community centre ?

  11. Elaine Murray says:

    London Clubmen, do you not read the papers? There was a great deal of kerfuffle over it at the time, the the fact that Bob Rae’s wife was Jewish. A pamphlet was circulated at the liberal leadership campaign about it at the time.. The London incident of the Jewish homes being targeted during the 2006 Federal by-election is also documented. The information is there for anyone, except those who would like to forget it, or pretend it didn’t happen.

  12. greg simpson says:

    I found it interesting that, around the time of Rae being Premier of Ontario, that a gentleman named Larry Grossman was elected leader of the provincial Conservatives. An acquaintance of mine, himself Jewish, predicted that though he had been a PC campaigner for many years, it would be impossible for Grossman to win based on his heritage. He did not win, and was summarily replaced as leader of the party. As shocking as the concept expressed by my Jewish friend was to me, I often wondered if it were true.

  13. Clubman says:

    There’s a difference between thinking a candidate with certain
    characteristics will or will not be able to win an election, and
    one being a racist. It’s just a calculation. Consider the PC’s female
    who inherited the PMO. Many women could/did tell the Old Boys
    that it would’nt work. Consider the US re Kennedy and Obama -
    was the electorate ready for RC and black ?
    Elaine, happy to look up the wife-of Rae stories in the Globe and
    Mail online free via library card, if you will give dates to search.
    Will be interested in hearing how you spoke up to combat this at the
    time. Just pointing fingers self-righteously at others does not move
    society ahead.
    Was it the goal of the Historical Society and speaker to rerun old
    problems, or just to introduce members to searching Jewish
    family history, going at it from the point of religion, not just begats.
    James is the title what L&MHS listed program as, or a personal
    take on how the event played out with your group’s audience?

  14. IS this the Wife-of Rae item ? says:

    Far North or something website– n.d.
    ["Several days following his defeat at the leadership convention
    it was reported that Rae's wife, Arlene Perly Rae was approached
    by a delegate who did not know who she was, and who told her
    that she should not vote for Rae because his wife is Jewish.

    A flyer was also sent electronically to convention delegates,
    stating that Rae's wife was a vice-president of the Canadian
    Jewish Congress and that he was a supporter of Israeli apartheid.
    Canadian Press reported that the flyer was produced by Ron Saba,
    editor of a small Montreal journal.
    Newly elected Liberal leader Stephane Dion issued a press release
    condemning the "hateful comments" made against Rae and his wife,
    saying that they are "reprehensible and will not be tolerated within
    the Liberal Party of Canada," adding that "there is no room for
    abhorrent comments such as these within our Party." ]

  15. IS this the Wife-of Rae item ? says:

    [Bob Rae target of anti-Semitism in recent Liberal leadership contest
    JOAN BRYDEN OTTAWA (CP) - Bob Rae was the target of anti-Semitic
    attacks during the Liberal leadership contest, motivated at least in
    part by the fact that his wife is Jewish.
    Sources close to Rae say that his wife, Arlene Perly Rae, was
    approached during last weekend's convention by a delegate who
    didn't realize she was the candidate's wife. The delegate told her
    not to vote for Rae "because his wife is Jewish." Perly Rae stonily
    informed the delegate that she was the wife in question. The delegate
    beat a hasty retreat.
    The incident might have been shrugged off if it had been an isolated
    event. But Rae team insiders contend it was part of a larger pattern
    of anti-Semitic smears on Rae, who finished third.
    A flyer was circulated electronically among convention delegates
    denouncing Rae for having once delivered a speech to the Jewish
    National Fund, a group the flyer said was complicit in "war crimes
    and ethnic cleansing."
    "Rae's wife is a vice-president of the CJC (Canadian Jewish Congress)
    a lobby group which supports Israeli apartheid," said the flyer in bold l
    etters superimposed over a close-up of Rae's face.
    "Bob Rae supports Israeli apartheid. Don't elect a leader who supports
    apartheid."
    The Canadian Jewish Congress has condemned the flyer and blamed
    Khaled ]
    ETC ETC —This is all about political attitutude toward Israel, not where
    a family worships. ]

  16. IS this the Wife-of Rae item ? says:

    For those wondering if the Historical has lost its grip, this
    was just a Toronto man flogging his book about illustrious
    Londoners of Jewish heritage.
    Accoring to Farrell’s 1992 Inventory, the Society entertained
    Mr. Julius Cohen on the topic in 1956 and someone else in ’69.
    As Mr and Mrs Rae are not Londoners, and the 2006 election
    has been over for some time, perhaps further “victim” anecdotes
    are irrelevant to the book lauded by SoHo and Dewdney.

  17. Elaine Murray says:

    I speak out about it all the time Clubmen. I am a firm supporter of Israel’s and the Jewish people’s right to exist. Just look how I had you look up the events I pointed out to confirm it really happened right here in good old Canada. Hell if I hadn’t have pointed that out to you, you wouldn’t have even have known just how rabid Jew-hatred is here in Canada.

  18. We're sure the Jewish Community says:

    in London welcomes the support. as must the State of Israel.
    And Rae as he attempts in rebuilding the national Liberal party now..

    But James’s topic here was how rotten people in London have been
    to people of the Jewish faith over the years, including University
    personnel, dates unclear.
    - One delegate from one unidentified Riding association at a Liberal
    Leadership Convention somewhere some years ago, quoted by (CP)
    as putting his/her foot in his/her mouth to wife-of one candidate does not
    qualify as Rabid Jew Hate in London or even in the entire country.
    The curiousity was as to where you got the anecdote, as apparently
    you weren’t there. Hardly a headline item or something to paste in one’s
    memory book.
    This is distasteful fallout from a genealogical presentation at a respected
    London institution. Guess its program chair didn’t allow for public attacks
    of Pollitical Correctness, turning simple family history search into search
    for slights perhaps predating their own families moving to our fair city.

  19. Reaney on Dewdney's 1945 stand says:

    Re Dewdney – “Another London board of education teacher of the 1940s
    created his own fictional account of London life. In the late Selwyn
    Dewdney’s 1946 novel, Wind Without Rain, it is possible the original for
    powerful teacher and future principal J.C. Bilbeau is the late G.A. Wheable,
    a force in London education for decades. “J.C. Bilbeau had just been there
    for three years and had everybody eating out of his hand already – should
    have been a bank president or something big like that,” it is said.
    “Dewdney’s hero is a high school teacher named John Westley…Wind
    Without Rain… Eventually, Westley and Bilbeau have a bitter falling out over
    the nature of teaching.
    * Dewdney’s introduction denies any of his characters are based on
    real people. ”
    - -But elsewhere online this book is said to be based on the Goldstick
    incident. (..The pay wasn’t so hot for those who chose military service
    in the early ’40s)

    .

  20. Hello, My grandmother Betty Shadbolt is the wife of the late Ron Shadbolt founder of the
    Big Band the New Modernaires she is looking for some feedback and information you may
    have about the London music hall of fame?

  21. Elaine Murray says:

    It was a headline item Clubmen, you would have to read something other than the London free press to realize it though. Let’s not forget Israel apartheid week that naive University students embrace each year with high five’s from their transparent professors. That union boss there what’s his name, the blowhard that was in town this week for a photo-op, who is trying to organize a boycott of everything Israel. One could look at that as institutionalized Jew-hatred if they were a thinking person.

  22. Elaine Murray says:

    Clubmen I would also educate you on the ship of fools with person’s aboard living right here London that were trying to provoke an international act of war against Israel, but I don’t want to over load you with documented proof of rabid Jew-hatred that goes on right under your nose without you being aware of it. .

  23. james.reaney says:

    Let me put in a belated comment here in an effort to connect several strands of the discussion and some earlier queries. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.
    One downtown London synagogue later became the N’Amerind centre. Another is now the Church of the Nazarene. Fires at the church have apparently destroyed vestiges of its time as a synagogue.
    Wind Without Rain is a novel inspired by Selwyn Dewdney’s time as a secondary school teacher in Owen Sound and at Sir Adam Beck in London. JBNBlog is not sure Isidore Goldstick would be an original for one of the characters. One of the teachers, Klein, is a CCF supporter which might be a hint. Under the villainous Bilbeau’s pressure, Klein has an illness threatening his career. Despite Selwyn’s assurance the characters aren’t actual people, it’s almost certain John Westley’s wife, Mary, is based on Selwyn’s wife, Irene Donner. Wind Without Rain is dedicated to her.
    The Free Press clipping file has a submitted biography of Isidore Goldstick’s wife, which says they were both Zionists in the teens and 1920s.

  24. james.reaney says:

    Thanks for the interest in the London Music Hall of Fame, Kim

    You can find background on the Hall via and an entry on your grandfather & a cool photo of the New Modernaires at a really great site for the history of London dance bands & big bands.

  25. charlie says:

    was julius melnitzer jewish? just wondering.

  26. james.reaney says:

    I don’t know . . . the Melnitzer years are a bit of a blur. My colleague Chip Martin wrote a definite book on the matter which might be helpful.

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