None Is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933-1948

University of Toronto Press
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Winner of the National Jewish Book Award (Holocaust Category)

Winner of the Canadian Historical Association John A. Macdonald Prize

Featured in The Literary Review of Canada 100: Canada’s Most Important Books

[This] is a story best summed up in the words of an anonymous senior Canadian official who, in the midst of a rambling, off-the-record discussion with journalists in 1945, was asked how many Jews would be allowed into Canada after the war … ‘None,’ he said, ‘is too many.’

From the Preface

One of the most significant studies of Canadian history ever written, None Is Too Many conclusively lays to rest the comfortable notion that Canada has always been an accepting and welcoming society. Detailing the country’s refusal to offer aid, let alone sanctuary, to Jews fleeing Nazi persecution between 1933 and 1948, it is an immensely bleak and discomfiting story – and one that was largely unknown before the book’s publication.

Irving Abella and Harold Troper’s retelling of this episode is a harrowing read not easily forgotten: its power is such that, ‘a manuscript copy helped convince Ron Atkey, Minister of Employment and Immigration in Joe Clark’s government, to grant 50,000 “boat people” asylum in Canada in 1979, during the Southeast Asian refugee crisis’ (Robin Roger, The Literary Review of Canada). None Is Too Many will undoubtedly continue to serve as a potent reminder of the fragility of tolerance, even in a country where it is held as one of our highest values.

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About the author

Irving Abella is the J. Richard Shiff Chair for the Study of Canadian Jewry and a professor in the Department of History at York University.

Harold Troper is professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. The co-author of None is Too Many: Canada and the Jews (with Irving Abella), his most recent book is The Defining Decade: Identity, Politics, and the Canadian Jewish Community in the 1960s.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Toronto Press
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Published on
Aug 14, 2012
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9781442663855
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Canada / Post-Confederation (1867-)
History / Jewish
Social Science / Jewish Studies
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This content is DRM protected.
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The history of the Jewish community in Canada says as much about the development of the nation as it does about the Jewish people. Spurred on by upheavals in Eastern Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Jews emigrated to the Dominion of Canada, which was then considered little more than a British satellite state. Over the ensuing decades, as the Canadian Jewish identity was forged, Canada itself underwent the transformative experience of separating itself from Britain and distinguishing itself from the United States. In this light, the Canadian Jewish identity was formulated within the parameters of the emerging Canadian national personality.

Canada's Jews is an account of this remarkable story as told by one of the leading authors and historians on the Jewish legacy in Canada. Drawing on his previous work on the subject, Gerald Tulchinsky illuminates the struggle against anti-Semitism and the search for a livelihood amongst the Jewish community. He demonstrates that, far from being a fragment of the Old World, the Canadian Jewry grew from a tiny group of transplanted Europeans to a fully articulated, diversified, and dynamic national group that defined itself as Canadian while expressing itself in the varied political and social contexts of the Dominion.

Canada's Jews covers the 240-year period from the beginnings of the Jewish community in the 1760s to the present day, illuminating the golden chain of Jewish tradition, religion, language, economy, and history as established and renewed in the northern lands. With important points about labour, immigration, and anti-Semitism, it is a timely book that offers sober observations about the Jewish experience and its relation to Canadian history.

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It has been thirty years since the publication of Irving Abella and Harold Troper's seminal work None is Too Many, which documented the official barriers that kept Jewish immigrants and refugees out of Canada in the shadow of the Second World War. The book won critical acclaim, but a haunting question remained: Why did Canada act as it did in the 1930s and 1940s? Answering this question requires a deeper understanding of the attitudes, ideas, and information that circulated in Canadian society during this period. How much did Canadians know at the time about the horrors unfolding against the Jews of Europe? Where did their information come from? And how did they respond, on both public and institutional levels, to the events that marked Hitler's march to power: the 1935 Nuremberg Race Laws, the 1936 Olympics, Kristallnacht, and the crisis of the MS St Louis? The contributors to this collection - scholars of international repute - turn to the wider public sphere for answers: to the media, the world of literature, the university campus, the realm of international sport, and networks of community activism. Their findings reveal that the persecutions and atrocities taking place in Nazi Germany inspired a range of responses from ordinary Canadians, from indifference to outrage to quiet acquiescence. It is challenging to recreate the mindset of more than seventy years ago. Yet this collection takes up that challenge, digging deeper into archives, records, and testimonies that can offer fresh interpretations of this dark period. The answer to the question "why?" begins here. Contributors include: Doris Bergen, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Chair in Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto, Richard Menkis, Department of History, University of British Columbia; Harold Troper, Department of Theory and Policy Studies in Education, OISE/University of Toronto; Amanda Grzyb, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, University of Western Ontario; Rebecca Margolis, Centre for Canadian Jewish Studies, University of Ottawa; Michael Brown, Department of Languages, Literatures and Lingustics, York University; Norman Ravvin, Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, Concordia University; and James Walker, Department of History, University of Waterloo.
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