Legacy of the Ginsberg Family


Each object in the Aron Museum's collection represents a story; a story of a previous owner, a family and a journey. Together, the objects represent the union of diverse objects into one collection, as well as of different families into one community.

Two pieces in the collection tell the story of one family's journey to Montreal and their integration into the Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom community. A prayer book printed in Livorno, Italy in 1866 and a matzah cover originating in Romania form the legacy of the Ginsberg family. The prayer book was brought to Montreal by Reuben Ginsberg, brother of Anna Aron. The matzah cover was brought to Canada by the family of Betty Ginsberg, née Bambiger, Reuben's wife and the Aron Museum's second curator after Anna Aron.


Betty and Reuben Ginsberg were both actively involved in Montreal's Jewish community, and were members of Temple Emanu-El for as long as their son Arthur can remember. Reuben served as a teacher in the Temple's school, and Betty was involved with the Sisterhood and the Book Lovers' Forum. Both Reuben and Betty were active in the establishment and development of the Temple's Museum of Jewish Ceremonial Art Objects. The Aron Museum was therefore a fitting depository for their own treasured pieces.


Reuben Ginsberg
Montreal, Quebec


Reuben Ginsberg was born in Cardiff, Wales. His mother came from Cairo, Egypt. His father, George Ginsberg, was a soldier of fortune and fought in the Boer War (1899-1902). It was during George Ginsberg's service as a Canadian soldier in World War I that Reuben received the prayer book that now resides in the Aron Museum.


Reuben was with his father's regiment in Ramsgate, England, where they were stationed in preparation for the journey to France. Reuben was just thirteen years old at the time, which was underage for the army, but he hoped to accompany the regiment to France to serve as a trumpeter. While in Ramsgate, Reuben had his Bar Mitzvah, the Jewish ceremony that marks a young man's passage into adulthood.


His Bar Mitzvah took place in 1916 in a synagogue established by Sir Moses Montefiore on his estate in Ramsgate in 1833. Moses Montefiore (1784-1885), one of the most famous English Jews of the nineteenth century, was one of Europe's leading businessmen and philanthropists. He used his influence to help oppressed Jewish communities all over the world.


Prayer Book for Shabbat and Holidays
Livorno, Italy


The congregation of the Montefiore Synagogue gave the prayer book to Reuben as a gift on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah, along with a tallit (prayer shawl) and a knitted bag. The prayer book has special significance, as it was printed in Livorno, Italy, which was Montefiore's hometown. It is therefore possible that Montefiore either used the book himself or was responsible for acquiring the book.


Arthur Ginsberg still has the tallit and the knitted bag that was given to his father in Ramsgate, while the prayer book is on display at the Aron Museum as part of Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom's collective history.


Reuben Ginsberg's Discharge Certificate



Reuben Ginsberg never did get to serve as trumpeter in the war. While the congregation at Ramsgate had been witness to his Bar Mitzvah and had attested to his status as a man under Jewish law, he was still too young to serve in the army. His young age was discovered shortly after his Bar Mitzvah and he was subsequently discharged.


Matzah Cover 1840s
Date not available


Just opposite the display case that holds Reuben Ginsberg's prayer book is a special matzah cover donated by his wife's family, the Bambigers. It is made of red silk and is hand-embroidered with flowers and with a Hebrew inscription that translates as: "Concerning eating of the Matzah."