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.