The Jewish Community of Moncton

Historical Background
Prepared by Tristan Stewart-Robertson

Moncton's Jewish history is the youngest of the three largest New Brunswick Jewish communities. Jake Baig was the first Jewish settler in 1898. The arrival of twenty-two families from Dorbyan, Lithuania established Moncton's Jewish community. The men arrived first and established themselves, and then sent for their wives and children in Europe (a fairly common practice among Jews and other immigrant settlers in the region). These Dorbyanners, as they were called, formed a very cohesive community and all settled on the same street in Moncton.

By 1910, the Jewish community was large enough to hire its first rabbi, Jacob Hans. With about 15 families in 1914, the congregation began to collect 10 cents from each member each week until there was enough money in 1924 to purchase land. Jake Marks and Sam Borenstein purchased the present lot on Steadman Street at an auction for $650. Some research has recounted that by being in a "choice" residential street, many non-Jews bid on the land to prevent the building of a synagogue in the neighbourhood. Nonetheless, the cornerstone was laid in 1926 and the building was completed by the following year. A cemetary for the Jewish community was purchased in 1930, prior to which Moncton Jews were buried in Saint John.

A sense of solidarity among Jews in Moncton is clearly evidenced in their response during and immediately after World War II. Moncton Jews readily welcomed thousands of Jewish airmen stationed in their city. The community opened a serviceman's centre and it is estimated that over twenty-three thousand men and women used these facilities. Extensive home hospitality was provided for the holidays of Passover, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. After the war, when trains would pass through Moncton with Jewish immigrants on their way west, members of the Jewish community would meet the trains - often in the middle of the night - attending to any of their immediate needs.

As in many other Jewish communities across the region, the Jews of Moncton have penetrated many of the host society's institutions. From lawyers to doctors, from judges to university professors, to Michael M. Baig's two terms as mayor of Moncton, the Moncton Jewish community has contributed greatly to the city as a whole.

The Moncton Jewish community appears to have reason to be optimistic about its future. It is one of the few communities that has experienced growth in its Jewish population with an influx of young Jewish people attracted to the expanding government and university sectors. Moncton is now the second largest Jewish community in Atlantic Canada with about 100 families.

  • Past Rabbis

  • Rabbi Jacob Hans
    1910 - ????
  • Rabbi Joseph Spiro
    1926 - 1936
  • Rabbi Harry Bronstein
    1936 - 1940
  • Rabbi Lippa Medjuck
    1940 - 1971
  • Rabbi Menachem Kutziner
    1971 - 1977
  • Rabbi Stanley Greenberg
    1977 - 1979
  • Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz
    1979 - 1982
  • Rabbi Michael Wolff
    1982 - 1990
  • Rabbi Fred Nebel
    1990 - 1993
  • Rabbi David Ellis
    1993 - 1996
  • Rabbi Zalmen Stiefel
    2002 - 2005

  • Past Areivim

  • Aviel & Sara Zwebner
    1997 - 1998
  • Yoel & Vered Kretzmer-Raziel
    1998 - 2000
  • Eliezer & Na'ama Ghelber-Kitzmacher
    2000 - 2001
  • Yaron & Revital Fuks
    2001 - 2002