In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Canada

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Bibliographies
  • Journals and Resources
  • Collections of Essays
  • General Histories
  • Demographics and Sociological Studies
  • Jewish Language and Identity
  • Theater and the Arts
  • Business
  • Education
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Israel
  • Jewish Community Life
  • Multiculturalism, Politics, and Identities

Jewish Studies Canada
Rebecca Margolis
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 August 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 September 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199840731-0092


Canadian Jewish Studies is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses all areas of the Jewish experience in Canada. The first scholarly studies in this field appeared the early 20th century, but it was not until 1990s—with the increased professionalization of the field—that the number of scholarly publications dedicated to the study of the Jews in Canada began to expand widely. Jewish settlement in Canada dates to the colonial period, and scholars have written extensively about the contributions of these early settlers to Canadian life. Canada’s Jewish population remained small until the turn of the 20th century, with mass immigration of Ashkenazim from eastern Europe; much has been written to document this largely Yiddish-speaking immigrant wave. This immigration was followed by successive waves of Sephardi Jewish newcomers from North Africa and the Middle East as well as others from the former Soviet Union, Israel, Ethiopia, and elsewhere, which has resulted in multifaceted scholarship of a very diverse Canadian Jewish community. Much has been written about the arrival, settlement, and integration patterns of these groups as well as the development of distinct Jewish Canadian community structures and cultural expression (literature, the arts, etc.). The processes of adaptation and negotiation of identities among Jews in Canada has yielded numerous studies of political movements, such as a Jewish left-wing and labor movement, dedication to Zionism and Israel, and the various religious denominations. The impact of Canadian multiculturalism and interfaith/intercommunal relations represent another area of interest in the field, as do challenges to the community, such as an aging population and intermarriage. Another area of attention has been the discrimination experienced by Jews in Canada (anti-Semitism), as well as the impact of the Holocaust on Canadian life. Today, Canadian Jews constitute roughly 1 percent of the country’s population and the fourth-largest Jewish community in the world; they are well integrated into Canadian life while continuing to maintain distinct ethnic and religious identities. The field attracts interest from scholars within the Jewish community in Canada as well as from outside the community and country, and it has produced scholarship in both of Canada’s official languages (English and French). While initially the domain of amateur scholars, notably historians, the field has become increasingly professionalized, with contributions by university professors and other individuals with advanced degrees in related areas. The field is significantly weighted toward history and sociology, with far less attention paid to literature, religion, and other subfields.

General Overviews

Articles are listed that offer a general overview of the field and recent trends within it. Each article addresses a different aspect of the emergence of the field of Canadian Jewish studies in its own right in recent decades. Koffman and Weinfeld 2011 examines a variety of trends within the social sciences, which dominate the field. Robinson 2009 addresses the significance of the field both within and outside of academia. Schnoor 2011 includes a comparative perspective with the United States, which has historically been used as a point of comparison for Canadian Jewish studies, despite the problems inherent in that analysis. Weinfeld, et al. 2012 offers a sociological perspective.

  • Koffman, David, and Morton Weinfeld. “Recent Developments in the Social Scientific Study of Canadian Jews.” Contemporary Jewry 31.3 (2011): 199–221.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12397-011-9066-7

    NNNA study of recent trends in the field, in particular in the social sciences, including demography, socioeconomics, gender, family and sexuality, regional differences, immigration and integration, religion and identity, politics, anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust and Israel.

  • Robinson, Ira. “The Field of Canadian Jewish Studies and Its Importance for the Jewish Community of Canada.” Jewish Political Studies Review 21.3–4 (Fall 2009): 75–86.

    NNNAn overview of the evolution of Canadian Jewish studies among academics and the general public, both within and outside of the Canadian Jewish community.

  • Schnoor, Randal F. “The Contours of Canadian Jewish Life.” Contemporary Jewry 31 (2011): 179–197.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12397-011-9075-6

    NNNA historical overview of development of the Canadian Jewish community, with a focus on contemporary demographics and its particular characteristics in comparison with the neighboring United States.

  • Weinfeld, Morton, Randal Schnoor, and David Koffman. “Overview of Canadian Jewry.” American Jewish Yearbook (2012): 55–90.

    NNNAn overview of the current state of Canadian Jewry from a sociological perspective.

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