About Us

Sheldon and Fagel Cohen (Kingston, ON), 1932. Ontario Jewish Archives, Blankenstein Family Heritage Centre, item 3939.


Where we come from:

In 1861, the population of Kingston Jews was just five. By 1920, due to the mass exodus from eastern and central Europe, the population grew to 303. These immigrants were generally of modest means. They were able to carve out a living peddling and progressed to being store owners. In the 1960s, the dramatic expansion of universities brought unprecedented numbers of Jewish professionals, mainly academics, to Kingston. Many of their grown children moved to larger centres, but newcomers replaced them. Currently, the Kingston Jewish community is 900 strong.

The birth of an organization:

On the 19th of May, 1947, the Jews of Kingston, at a well-attended meeting, decided to form a Jewish Community Council. At that first meeting, Rabbi Renov said, “Our first goal is to achieve unity – unity of thought and action.” Under the leadership of Sheldon Cohen, the Council became the voice of the Jewish people in Kingston and the nucleus of Jewish life. The new organization served as the coordinating agency for Kingston’s Jewish organizations and, also monitored and confronted anti-Semitism in our community.

Our name changed to The Kingston Jewish Council (KJC). in […]. Our purpose remained the same: to strengthen and celebrate Jewish life in Kingston. In support of this goal, we facilitate social, cultural, religious, and educational activities that bring the community together. Our events are often family-oriented and child friendly.  Today, Kingston is proud to offer three congregations; Beth Israel (which recently changed its affiliation to Conservative), the Chabad Student Centre of Kingston, and the reform Iyr HaMelech.


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Aaron G