A Tale of Two Synagogues: Culture, Conflict and Consolidation in the Jewish Community of Saint John, 1906-1919

Craig Chouinard


The history of the Jewish community in Saint John, New
Brunswick has the characteristics of both large and small-town
Jewish communities. Saint John paralleled the early Jewish
communities of Montreal and Toronto in its formation by English
and German communities in the 1850s. Cultural and socioeconomic
divisions between the Anglophile old community and
the later immigrants from Eastern Europe resulted in a split into
two synagogues in 1906, as was also the case in the larger
communities. Economic changes resulted in Saint John's decline
as a major industrial centre by 1914. This decline, combined with
closer cooperation between the two Jewish groups, produced a
sense of community leading to the reunification of the synagogue
in 1919-20, thus reverting to the profile of the one-synagogue
smaller communities.

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