Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 144 years

New Book: “Coming of Age: A History of the Jewish People of Manitoba”

Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada
April 2009
$42.95 plus GST
Hardcover 500 pp

The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada is proud to announce its publication of well-known author and historian Allan Levine’s Coming of Age: A History of the Jewish People of Manitoba. This 500-page comprehensive and accessible history of the Jews of Manitoba, beautifully designed by co-publisher Heartland Associates, includes hundreds of illustrations found in the JHC archives. It reflects what is already known about the community, introduces new material, and casts an eye at the 125-year history of Jews in Manitoba from the earliest days of settlement in 1885 up to the present. Coming of Age is a major expression of the mandate of the JHC to preserve, interpret, and present the culture and history of the Jews of Western Canada.

Perhaps it was the geographic isolation, the diverse ethnic composition, or the political climate that has accounted for the astounding accomplishment of Winnipeg’s Jews. Whatever the answer, there is no arguing that since they first established themselves in what was a frontier prairie outpost at the end of the nineteenth century, Manitoba’s Jews, against substantial odds, have created one of the most vibrant and culturally-rich Jewish communities in the world. No matter what the obstacles were over the years, no matter how blatant the anti-Semitism that excluded Jews from entering certain trades and professions, from owning property in selected Winnipeg neighbourhoods and resort areas, from attending the medical school at the University of Manitoba, and from joining certain clubs and organizations, Jews persevered and prospered.

How Manitoba’s Jews, never more than three per cent of the total population, confronted these various problems and became some of the province’s leading citizens is a remarkable tale that is told in these pages. The narrative arc that runs through Allan Levine’s Coming of Age: A History of the Jewish People of Manitoba is clear: that it is possible to be both Canadian and Jewish without sacrificing the latter for the former. True, racism has not vanished from Canadian society and from time-to-time, anti-Semitism rears its ugly head, but today, being Jewish in Manitoba is not an impediment to acceptance or success in any sense of the word. On the contrary, since the 1950s the province’s Jews have played a key role in reshaping and broadening Canadian values and continue to do so.

The book will be launched at a ceremony:

Thursday, 14 May 2009, 7:30 PM
Multipurpose Room
Asper Jewish Community Campus
123 Doncaster Street, Winnipeg

Copies of the book may be purchased directly from the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada or from leading bookstores.

About the Author

Allan Levine is an award-winning internationally selling author and historian based in Winnipeg. He has written nine books, including The Devil in Babylon: Fear of Progress and the Birth of Modern Life (McClelland & Stewart, 2005) and Scattered Among the Peoples: The Jewish Diaspora in Ten Portraits (McClelland & Stewart, 2002; Overlook and Duckworth, 2003). Both books were nominated for the McNally-Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year and the Isbister (Manitoba) Non-Fiction Book of the Year. Fugitives of the Forest: The Heroic Story of Jewish Resistance and Survival During the Second World War (Stoddart, 1998) won the 1999 Yad Vashem Prize for Holocaust History in Canada, was short-listed for the 1999 McNally-Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year, and was a selection of the Traditions Book Club in the United States. A second edition of Fugitives of the Forest was published in 2009 by the Lyons Press, an imprint of the Globe Pequot Press, to coincide with the release of the film Defiance.

A diverse author who moves easily between popular non-fiction and fiction, his most recent mystery is Evil of the Age: The Charles St. Clair Chronicles (Heartland, 2008). He has also completed a trilogy of historical mysteries featuring his turn-of-the-century Winnipeg detective Sam Klein. The Blood Libel, which was Winner of the Margaret McWilliams Medal for Best Historical Fiction and nominated for the Chapters/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Arthur Ellis First Mystery Novel Award in 1998, and Sins of the Suffragette, which was nominated for the Carol Shields City of Winnipeg Book of the Year, have been published in Germany by BTB Random House Germany. In the fall of 2004, the author did a five-city book tour in Germany to promote the launch of Die Sünden der Suffragetten, including a reading at the Berlin International Literature Festival.

Allan Levine has traveled and spoken about his work in the United States, Europe, and Israel, and has written numerous commentary pieces on global politics, among the hundreds of reviews and articles he has authored in a freelance career that began in the early 1980s. His work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, and Winnipeg Free Press. He has taught history and world issues at St. John’s-Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg since 1984.

More information:

Allan Levine (MHS publications)

Web site for Allan Levine

The Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada

The JHC collects, preserves, and makes available information about the Jewish experience in Manitoba. It maintains an extensive archive of a vast range of materials that reflect the personal and public histories of the Jews of Manitoba. Programs include lectures, exhibitions, conferences, publications, historic tours, and oral-history and photography projects. The JHC’s Freeman Family Holocaust Education Centre administers educational programs and symposia for Manitoba students, and also has a museum component dedicated to materials donated by Manitoba Holocaust survivors and their families. The JHC’s Marion and Ed Vickar Jewish Museum is located in window cases at the Asper Jewish Community Campus that hold artifacts, documents, photographs, and memorabilia that illuminate the life of the community.

Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada

Suite C140 - 123 Doncaster Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3N 2B2

Telephone: (204) 477-7460
Fax: (204) 477-7465

Books in Manitoba History

Posted: 9 May 2009

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