Massey Hall rally for Jews in Europe, 1915

IT’S clear from this article from the Globe and Mail of August 9, 1915, that the situation of Jews in Europe was desperate and that Jews in Toronto were keen to ease their affliction. The rally at Massey Hall reportedly attracted some 2,000 people and representatives of more than 50 Jewish organizations. The keynote speaker was Rabbi Julius J. Price of the University Avenue Synagogue addressed the gathering in Yiddish; Cantor Maurice Kaplan of the McCaul Street Synagogue sang. 

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Toronto Hebrews Organize to Render Assistance


Historic Meeting is Held in Massey Hall to Unite for Charitable Effort — “Sons of Israel Should Fight”

No race has been more sadly afflicted by the European war than the Jewish race. In the wake of the great war tide whole Hebrew communities have been eliminated. In central Europe the race has been denuded of its young manhood by the wastage of war. Homes have been destroyed, possessions taken, women folk and children have been scattered, and today three million Hebrews are crying for bread shelter.

The destruction of Belgium does not compare with the spoliation of Poland, where the tide of war has ebbed and flowed and the Germans have had ample opportunity of exacting “revenge” from those innocent peoples whose interests in the war are practically nil. Theirs is a no-man’s land.

Members of the Jewish race are being pressed under the heel of German militarism, others more fortunately placed are fighting Germany and all that nation stands for, but when peace is assured and a general settlement of the conflict is arranged, will the Hebrews as a race participate in the spoils?

These facts and terrible experiences of a scattered race were given expression at Massey Hall yesterday afternoon, when over two thousand delegates from 53 Jewish organizations in the city pledged themselves to make a per capita grant per week to help the poverty-stricken Jews in or within the direct influence of the war zone. Local Jewries in all North American centres have organized for the same purpose.

If Germany Wins

Besides being an exhortation to charitable effort, the gathering developed into a veritable recruiting meetings. Rabbi Price of the University Avenue Synagogue delivered an eloquent and very forceful appeal to the young Jews to take their example from the prophet Isaiah, who fought that peace might ensue.

“Treitschke spilt Jewish blood,” said he. “If Germany wins it means that we go back to the ghetto; we again lose our political freedom, our liberty of speech. We shall be struck down by the damnable mailed fist of Prussianism.

“Sons of Israel, be loyal to this great British Empire. You who can go, enlist and serve this Empire in a practical manner. If not, give your money to this great cause. We Jewish ministers are proud to be citizens of an Empire that is willing to risk its prestige to fight a philosophy which God forbids. Israel’s message has always been that of peace. Solomon was the Jewish type of superman, not David.

“Because of the Kaiser, Jews are fighting one another, but if the Jews of Germany are for peace ought not we to be more so? That is why our sons should serve and the rest should give.” (Cheers.)

Dr. Price declared that in Germany the State is the deity of the people, and that Germans have been taught to believe that Britain has ever stood in the way of German expansion, and for that reason the allies should receive every support.

Notice of another rally at Massey Hall in 1919

An Historic Meeting

Yesterday’s meeting was historic, so far as the Toronto Jewry is concerned. It was practically the first gathering in Toronto at which every phase of Jewish thought from Marxian Socialism to strict orthodoxy was represented. The war has had its levelling influence upon the Jews; sectarianism was eliminated for the benefit of the race. Representatives of the Austrian, Polish, Russian and other Jewish congregations were gathered together on the platform.

The Socialists’ orchestra, rendered the Russian “Hero March,” usually played at military funerals. Chason (Chazzan) Kaplan, a Jewish cantor, caused the audience to weep when he sang a pathetic funeral prayer. Rabbi Mashlonsky of the Jewish Educational Alliance of New York, the “W. J. Bryan of Judaism,” delivered a remarkable lecture in Yiddish.

On the platform with him were: Rabbi Rosenberg, Polish congregation, Rabbi Gordon (Russian), Rabbi Price, Rabbi Weinreb (Austrian), who is a Canadian citizen, and President M. Goldstick, who is in charge of the organization of 250 members who will collect the weekly subscriptions from the subscribers.

Jewish Federation

Mr. Jos. Gurofsky, as Provisional President of a new Jewish Federation, formed to look after the educational and domestic affairs of the Jews, urged the members of this race to unite for the common good.

At the end of the meeting cards were distributed, the delegates signified their intention to give and specified the amounts they could afford, which will be forwarded to the headquarters in New York from time to time. ♦

See also Toronto Jews Rally for the Allies in WWI