Manitoba Historical Society
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Switzer-Cooperstock Lecture Prize in Western Canadian Jewish History

Theodore Friedgut, Professor Emeritus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been awarded the first Switzer-Cooperstock Lecture Prize in Western Canadian Jewish History. The prize has been established by the Switzer family in honour of their parents and grandparents, Rose (nee Cooperstock) Switzer and Louis Switzer.

The Switzer-Cooperstock Prize is awarded biannually for new scholarship on the Jewish experience in Western Canada; it is to be subsequently delivered as a lecture. The award is administered by the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada.

Professor Friedgut is a distinguished professor of Russian and Slavic studies, originally from Regina, Saskatchewan. The subject of his award-winning research is Jewish Pioneers on the Canadian Prairies: The Lipton Jewish Agricultural Colony, 1901-1951. Professor Friedgut will be presenting his lecture on the subject Monday, September 8, 2008, at 7:00 PM, in the Kanee Foyer, Asper Jewish Community Campus, 123 Doncaster Street.

The Canadian government, through its Dominion Lands Act of 1872, encouraged immigrants to settle in western Canada Among the more than three million who immigrated between 1872 and 1914 were a number of Jews seeking refuge from the persecution and political instability of Eastern Europe. For many of these Jewish families, the chance to farm one’s own homestead represented an opportunity to build a new life. Despite little experience as agriculturalists, thousands of Jewish immigrants settled in Western Canada, forming farm colonies in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Professor Friedgut’s research combines both his personal and academic interests. His grandparents settled in the Lipton Colony in 1906, and his father grew up there. At the same time, Professor Friedgut says, “the massive emigration of Jews, Doukhobors, Mennonites and Ukrainians at the end of the 19th and first quarter of the 20th century was … a major factor in the formation of 20th century Jewish history. One of the streams of emigration led to the Canadian West.” In his lecture, Professor Friedgut will provide a detailed picture of life in the colony, setting it against the political, social, and economic context of the times.

The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada is dedicated to advancing and promoting knowledge, understanding, and preservation of Jewish culture and heritage. For further information about Dr. Friedgut and the Switzer-Cooperstock lecture, please contact Fran Barrett, Managing Director, Telephone: 204-477-7460; Email:

Posted: 6 August 2008

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