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Past to Present: Generations of Jewish Life in Saint John

The development and preservation of a small Jewish community

The first Jewish family came to Saint John after the American Revolution. The establishment of a viable Jewish community in the city began with the arrival of a small group of cigar makers from England in the 1850s and 1860s. They were followed by hundreds of Jews from Eastern Europe between 1892 and 1930. There were close to 300 Jewish families in Saint John from the 1920s and the 1960s.

Jewish life flourished and was centred around the synagogue with religious services and many social and fraternal organizations. Thriving family businesses lined many of the city’s streets. Many Saint John Jews made exceptional contributions to the Jewish and non-Jewish community.

Strong ties to family and the community remained even as the grandchildren of the immigrants left the city for opportunities elsewhere.

Step through the door into the past, explore the Jewish history of a small Canadian city and see how this history is being preserved for future generations.

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This exhibit was created using the archival collections of the Saint John Jewish Historical Museum and written by Katherine Biggs-Craft, Curator. The creation of the exhibit would not have been possible without the efforts of Marcia Koven, founder of the Saint John Jewish Historical Museum, who made it her mission to preserve the history of this Jewish community.