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History Social History

History of the Jews in Quebec

by (author) Pierre Anctil

translated by Judith Weisz Woodsworth

University of Ottawa Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2021
Social History, Jewish Studies, Regional Studies
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    Publish Date
    Sep 2021
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    Sep 2021
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    Sep 2021
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The presence of Jews in Quebec dates back four centuries. Quebec Jewry, in Montreal in particular, has evolved over time, thanks to successive waves of migration from different regions of the world. The Jews of Quebec belong to a unique society in North America, which they have worked to fashion. The dedication with which they have defended their rights and their extensive achievements in multiple sectors of activity have helped foster diversity in Quebec.

This work recounts the different contributions Jews have made over the years, along with the cultural context that encouraged the emergence in Montreal of a Jewish community like no other in North America. This is the first overview of a history that began during the French Regime and continued, through many twists and turns, up to the turn of the twenty-first century.

About the authors

Pierre Anctil is an award-winning author, a member of the Royal Society of Canada since 2012 and a full professor at the Department of History of the University of Ottawa, where he teaches contemporary Canadian history and Canadian Jewish history. He has written at length on the history of Montreal’s Jewish community and on the current debates on cultural pluralism in Canada. His most recent English-language titles are Jacob Isaac Segal: A Montreal Yiddish Poet and His Milieu (2017) and A Reluctant Welcome for Jewish People: Voices in Le Devoir’s Editorials, 1910–1947 (2019), both at the University of Ottawa Press.

Pierre Anctil's profile page

Judith Weisz Woodsworth is Professor of Translation Studies in the Département d’études françaises at Concordia University. She has published widely on the history and theory of translation and has translated novels by Quebec authors Pierre Nepveu and Abla Farhoud.


Judith Weisz Woodsworth's profile page

Excerpt: History of the Jews in Quebec (by (author) Pierre Anctil; translated by Judith Weisz Woodsworth)

This book focuses on Quebec society and the City of Montreal as sites of a distinct Jewish identity, which stands out from Jewish identities as they have evolved elsewhere in Canada. The approach is unique in that it makes use of French and Yiddish sources, which are copious in the case of Montreal’s Jewish population. One of the characteristics of this field of research is that it requires a command of several languages and dialects and a deep understanding of the different religious traditions that came into contact with one another over a long period of time. The history of Montreal Jews is striking in that it highlights the role of the city as a crossroads at which successive generations of immigrants have converged.

Editorial Reviews

« L’historien Pierre Anctil vient de publier un livre magistral, rigoureux et passionnant dans lequel il retrace quatre siècles de vie juive au Québec —Histoire des Juifs du Québec. Un ouvrage qui fera date dans les annales historiographiques consacrées aux Juifs du Canada. »

The Canadian Jewish News, Montréal

« Pierre Anctil raconte avec érudition l’histoire de deux minorités — juive dans l’ensemble québécois, francophone dans l’ensemble canadien. Cette synthèse s’impose comme une lecture essentielle pour qui veut comprendre le Québec et le Canada contemporains : elle place l’Histoire des Juifs du Québec au cœur de l’histoire du Québec tout court dont elle est, désormais, une des pierres d’angle. »

Archives juives, Paris, vol. 52, no 2

“Pierre Anctil tells the history of two minorities—Jews within Quebec and Francophones within Canada—with erudition. This overview is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand contemporary Quebec and Canada: it places the history of the Jews in Quebec at the very heart of Quebec history, and makes it one of its cornerstones.”

Archives juives, Paris, vol. 52, no 2

“Historian Pierre Anctil has just published a masterful, comprehensive, and fascinating book, History of the Jews in Quebec, in which he recounts four centuries of Jewish life in Quebec. A work that will go down in the annals of Jewish history in Canada.”

The Canadian Jewish News, Montreal

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