Jewish Heritage Month

Jewish Heritage Month

An opportunity to discover and celebrate Jewish culture, faith and history, as well as the tremendous contributions of Jewish communities to Alberta's social, political and economic fabric.

Timeline of Jewish Communities in Calgary

Jacob and Rachel Diamond became Alberta's first permanent Jewish settlers in 1889. By the time the province of Alberta was born in 1905, 50 Jews had followed in their footsteps and settled in Calgary.

By 1911, the community numbered over 600. Most came from Russia and Romania, anxious to leave pogroms and persecution behind them and embrace the freedoms and economic opportunities that were the twin hallmarks of the West.


(September 15) – Among the first Jews to visit the territory now known as the province of Alberta were traders (horse, fur), merchants, and gold prospectors. A story in The Fort Edmonton Journal notes, “Mr. Silverman (a Jew) and party of 4 Americans and a Negro started for Fort Benton today.”

Source: Edmonton House Journal, Hudson’s Bay Company, 1869-70, B.60/9/37, Provincial Archives of Manitoba.


Moses Solomon, who owned a salon in Fort Benton, Montana, and traded with Indigenous peoples of the territory, built a trading post on the Belly River, southeast of Fort Macleod, to conduct trade with the Indigenous peoples of the territory.

Source: Hugh Dempsey, Historic Sites of Alberta. Edmonton: Government of Alberta, 1963: 31.


A Jewish trader named Ursinger brought a herd of horses from Montana to sell to the Indigenous peoples who were signing the Blackfoot Treaty and to Rev. John McDougall.

Source: L.V. Kelly, The Range Men. Toronto: Coles Publishing, 1980: 120.


(December 2) – A Jewish trader named Severn is recorded in the Diary of Royal Mounted Police S.J. Clark as having arrived in Fort Calgary to trade horses with the Indigenous peoples of the territory: “Severn, a Jew, arrived with horses to trade with the Indians.”

Source: Diary of S.J. Clark, Glenbow Archives.

Jacob and Rachel Diamon


Jacob Lyon Diamond, who migrated from Lithuania to Eastern Ontario around 1879, moved with his wife, Rachel Diamond (nee Stoodley), from Eastern Ontario to West Calgary. Diamond was a pawnbroker and trader of liquor and hides.

Jacob Diamond’s brothers moved to Alberta, with William Diamond moving to Edmonton and Canmore, becoming among the first Jewish settlers in those territories.

House of Jacob


The House of Jacob, Calgary’s first Jewish temple, was established by Jacob Lyon Diamond.

William Diamond, who moved with his family to Edmonton in 1888, founded the first Jewish synagogue in Edmonton in 1890.

William Diamond


After Western prohibition, Jacob Lyon Diamond, a peddler and early entrepreneur, established a liquor business in Calgary. His brother, William Diamond, opened a tailor shop.

Pine Lake, Alberta


With an increase of Russian Jewish refugees were encouraged to migrate to the West to help colonize the territory. Alberta’s first Jewish farming settlements were established in Pine Lake, near Fort MacLeod.


The first Jewish High Holidays services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur began after the Diamond brothers rented the Calgary Masonic Hall to hold the services.


With the needs and support of the growing newcomer community, the Diamond brothers helped to establish the first Jewish cemetery.


The Jewish population and farm settlements grew with homesteaders in rural towns like Rumsey and Sibbald. With the growth of urban development, many Jews migrated from rural to urban areas.


William Diamond established the first Jewish Religious Council of Alberta during his time in Edmonton.


Hyman Goldstick moved from Toronto to Edmonton, becoming Alberta’s first full-time Jewish religious leader. Goldstick served urban communities in Calgary and Edmonton as well as smaller surrounding communities.


There were some 600 members of the growing Jewish community in Calgary, fleeing the pogroms and persecution in Russia, Romania, and countries that are now part of Eastern Europe. Embracing the entrepreneurial spirit of the West, they pursued economic opportunities and helped to build institutions to strengthen democracy and civil liberties.

House of Jacob


Beth Jacob, Calgary’s first Jewish synagogue, was established by Jacob Diamond.

Talmud Torah


Talmud Torah, the Calgary Hebrew School, was Calgary’s first Jewish day school. This was followed by the I.L. Peretz School in 1927. These day schools were amalgamated in 1987 as the Calgary Jewish Academy.

Strathcona Block


The Calgary Hebrew School, Talmud Torah, offered after-school educational programs in Jewish studies. This period also saw the emergence of non-governmental organizations such as B’nai Brith.

I.L. Peretz


The I.L. Peretz Institute was established to accommodate the needs and interests of the growing number of Yiddish supporters.


The House of Israel, a Jewish community centre, was opened in Calgary and serviced the communities of Mission and Cliff Bungalow. On June 25, 2021, the building was approved as a Heritage Calgary city-wide historic resource.


Henry Cohen and his brothers, John (Chauncey), Albert, Morley, Samuel, and Joseph Cohen, established a wholesale import company, General Distributors Ltd. It was later renamed Gendis in 1983.

Harry and Martha Cohen

Jewish Calgarians You Should Know

An opportunity to remember, celebrate and educate future generations about the inspirational role that Jewish Calgarians have played and continue to play in communities across the city.

Israel Studies Program | UCalgary

Israel Studies Program | UCalgary

The Multi-Faces of Israel is a unique course at the University of Calgary and across Canada. Following an intensive series of lectures in Calgary on the history and politics of Israel, students spend 10 days in Israel learning about the similarities and differences in Israeli and Canadian public policy.

Belzberg Scholar in Israel Studies | UCalgary

Belzberg Scholar in Israel Studies | UCalgary

Jenny and the late Hy Belzberg were early supporters of the UCalgary. They have funded Israeli studies academic exchanges and visiting scholar programs, sometimes in partnership with other community philanthropists, including the Kahanoff Foundation. They also helped to secure the Mordechai Richler papers to UCalgary.

Judaism - Religious Studies Library Research Guide

Judaism - Religious Studies Library Research Guide

University of Calgary's Libraries and Cultural Resources (LCR) produces various library study guides and user-friendly resources to improve your learning experience and to ensure you get the most out of your education, research and artistic inquiry. Utilize the LCR’s curated pages built specifically for you.

Hillel Calgary

Hillel Calgary

Hillel Canada (formerly National Jewish Campus Life) plays a critical role in ensuring the future of our Jewish community by serving Jewish students - from those with strong Jewish backgrounds to those with none at all.

Hillel Calgary

Jewish Calgary Student Support Network

Jewish Calgary Student Support Network

@calgaryhillel and @nwcbbyo created the Student Support Network, a weekly support group.  Keep an eye out for upcoming dates!

Calgary Jewish Foundation - Jewish Calgary Student Support Network

Rabbi Mordechai Groner

Yeshiva Ateres Shimon

Rabbi Mordechai Groner

Jewish (Chabad)
Faith and Spirituality Centre

Born and raised in Israel, Mordechai Groner studied in various ‘Yeshivos,’ beginning in Israel and continuing his learning at the Central Chabad Lubavitch Rabbinical College in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of twenty, he was sent on an outreach mission to Rostov, Russia and the surrounding communities in order to revive Jewish life in that part of the world.

After returning to Brooklyn, Mordechai was ordained as a rabbi at the age of twenty-three. He later spent a year in Worchester, Massachusetts, teaching in the local Jewish high school and after getting married to his wife Esther, the young couple moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Rabbi Groner served as a Rabbi in the local Chabad Educational Centre.

For the last 13 years, Rabbi Groner has been the Director and main teacher of the Calgary JLI (Jewish Learning Institute) under Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta.

Learn more about Rabbi Groner here.

Hannah Giesinger

Jewish (Hillel)
Faith and Spirituality Centre

My name is Hannah Giesinger, and I'm delighted to be the new Emerging Gen Coordinator for the Calgary Jewish Federation! I'll be working predominantly on campus with Hillel Calgary, the Jewish Students Association on campus. My work in the community also extends to Jewish Adult Calgary (JAC).  

I am a born and raised Calgarian and have been active in the Jewish community from a young age. From teaching religious school at Temple B'nai Tikvah, to participating in multiple Jewish youth movements (including United Synagogue Youth (USY) and Hillel Calgary), my love for our community has been constant and deep. I am a current student at the University of Calgary in open studies with hopes of completing my degree in social work. 

Some fun facts about me: I worked as a unit clerk for Alberta Health Services for six years before making the decision to return to school. The bookstore is my happy place, and I am an avid bibliophile. I love to bake and crochet - which is a skill I taught myself during the pandemic!  

Hannah Giesinger

Calgary Jewish Federation

Calgary Jewish Foundation

The goal of Calgary Jewish Federation is to touch the lives of every member of our community and to connect them with each other, and with fellow Jews around the world.

Source - Calgary Jewish Foundation

Calgary Jewish Federation

Antisemitism in the Current Moment: Critical Views from the Jewish Faculty Network

Join us to hear a panel of Jewish faculty in Canada consider antisemitism in the context of the recent moment in Israel and Palestine. We are deeply alarmed about how claims of defense of Israel and Jewish rights are being used to justify genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, and unprecedented repression against solidarity with Palestine by university administrators, governments, and other institutions. This repression is often couched in false allegations of antisemitism or of supporting terrorism.

We are aware of the multiple audiences who have been affected, and among us are diverse experiences and opinions. We share a deep commitment to solidarity with Palestine and Palestinians, now and historically. Challenging false allegations of antisemitism and opposing without compromise any manifestation of actual antisemitism, we follow a long tradition of Jewish ethics which encourages dissent and self-reflection.

Participating faculty: Abigail Bakan, Michaela Beder, Deb Cowen, Larry Haiven, Ilan Kapoor, Ariel Katz, Asher Kirchner, Naomi Klein, Jonah Corne, Avi Lewis, Sheryl Nestel, Shiri Pasternak, Alejandro Paz, Jillian Rogin, Anna Zalik.


Thursday, February 15, 2024
10 - 11.30 a.m. MT


Jewish History quiz

Jewish History in Canada


Take a quiz to test your knowledge about the immigration history, traditions and key figures of Jewish cultures that are part of Canada.

This quiz is made available by The Canadian Encyclopedia | Historica Canada



Responding to Antisemitism in the Classroom | Facing History & Ourselves

Responding to Antisemitism in the Classroom | Facing History & Ourselves

Tools to help understand the impact of antisemitism and stand up against hate.

Teaching About Antisemitism | #ItStartedWithWords

Teaching About Antisemitism | #ItStartedWithWords

Practical tools and comprehensive teaching materials for teaching about antisemitism and the Holocaust.

Teaching Materials to Challenge Antisemitism | OSCE

Teaching Materials to Challenge anti-Semitism | OSCE

Tools and guidance to ensure that education systems build the resilience of young people to antisemitic ideas and ideologies, violent extremism and all forms of intolerance and discrimination.

Holocaust and Human Rights: Remembrance and Education | Calgary Jewish Federation

Holocaust & Human Rights: Remembrance and Education | Calgary Jewish Federation

The mission of the Holocaust and Human Rights: Remembrance and Education department of Calgary Jewish Federation is to promote acceptance, social justice, and human rights through education and remembrance of the Holocaust.

Human Rights & Holocaust Education Programming | Calgary Public Library Foundation

Human Rights & Holocaust Education Programming | CPL Foundation

Calgary Public Library and Edmonton Public Library have partnered to raise awareness and engage Albertans in critical dialogue about Human Rights and Holocaust Education.

Holocaust And Genocide Education Resources | FSWC

Holocaust And Genocide Education Resources | FSWC

Learning about antisemitism is necessary for understanding the landscape of hate and intolerance in our world today.

Scale in Literature and Culture

Clarke, Michael Tavel
Associate Professor, Department of English
University of Calgary


Hegel’s Idea of the Good Life: From Virtue to Freedom, Early Writings and Mature Political Philosophy

Hegel's Idea of the Good Live

Goldstein, Joshua D. 
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
University of Calgary


moldovan hotel

Horlick, Leah
Canadian Writer-in-Residence, 2022-23
Calgary Distinguished Writers Program (CDWP)


Christie Pits  Jamie Michaels + Doug Fedrau

Christie Pitts

Michaels, Jamie and Fedrau, Doug
PhD Candidate, Sessional Instructor, English
University of Calgary

Dirty Water Comics

Books by and on Jewish Canadians

A curated book list from a variety of authors, including novels, memoirs and historical accounts. You can find stories that will foster not only joy and compassion, but also resilience and understanding.

Books by and on Jewish Canadians

Films by and on Jewish Canadians

This selection highlights many of the accomplishments of Jewish Canadians who, throughout Canadian history, have made a rich and diverse nation through film.


Podcasts by and on Jewish Canadians

Listen to various podcasts across the spectrum from hosts and guests with a wide breadth of experience about Canada from Jewish communities.