United Talmud Torahs of Montreal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
United Talmud Torahs of Montreal – Herzliah High School
בתי תלמוד תורה / הרצליה‬‬‬
UTT–Herzliah is located in Montreal
4840 St. Kevin Ave. / 5475 Mountain Sights Ave.

Coordinates45°29′23″N 73°37′54″W / 45.4898°N 73.6317°W / 45.4898; -73.6317
45°29′15″N 73°38′02″W / 45.4875°N 73.6340°W / 45.4875; -73.6340
TypePrivate Jewish day school
Mottoתלמוד תורה כנגד כולם
Religious affiliation(s)Judaism
Established1896; 123 years ago (1896)
PresidentAdam Weinstock
Principal (UTT)Michelle Toledano
Principal (Herzliah)Linda Leiberman
Head of schoolKelly Castiel
Medium of languageEnglish, French, Hebrew
AffiliationCAIS, QAIS, AJDS

United Talmud Torahs of Montreal (Hebrew: הַמְאוּחָדִים בְּמוֹנְטְרִיאָל בּ‬ָ‬תֵי תַלְמוּד תוֹרָה‬, French: Talmud Torahs Unis de Montréal) (also known as The Azrieli Schools, in French: Les écoles Azrieli) is a private co-educational Jewish day school system that includes an elementary school, United Talmud Torah, and a high school, Herzliah High School (Hebrew: בֵּית סֵפֶר הַתִיכוֹן הֶרְצְלִיָה‬). Both are located in the Snowdon neighbourhood of the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough in Montreal, Quebec.

Herzliah and United Talmud Torah's campus in the Saint-Laurent borough (known as the Beutel campus) was closed down and consolidated with the Snowdon campus in 2011. Two additional elementary school campuses existed in the Côte Saint-Luc neighbourhood and Chomedey, but were closed down and merged with the other branches.


Canada's first Talmud Torah school was founded in Montreal in 1896 by Rabbi Mordechai Aaron Ashinsky of Congregation B'nai Jacob. Starting with twenty children in a small building on Cadieux Street (now de Bullion Street), it rapidly grew to 150 pupils in three years and moved to larger facilities at 401 de la Gauchetière Street.[1] Classes initially were taught in Yiddish and, by 1917, in Hebrew.[2][3]

The first class had but twenty students, all of them boys (girls were first admitted in 1911), and one teacher; the original Talmud Torah School, under the directorship of Rabbi Hirsch Cohen, moved again to larger quarters on Saint Urbain Street in 1903. Between 1905 and 1916 five additional Talmud Torahs emerged throughout the city; these institutions operated as supplementary Jewish schools that met for several hours a week, in the afternoons, evenings, or on Sundays.[4]

In 1917, through the initiative of local philanthropist Sir Mortimer B. Davis, the six individual Talmud Torah schools amalgamated as the United Talmud Torahs of Montreal.[5] Ground was broken in 1930 for the first new building of the school, financed by a fundraising initiative with major community support; the building was erected on the corner of Saint Joseph Boulevard and Jeanne-Mance Street in the Mile End neighbourhood with over 1,300 pupils enrolled;[6] the United Talmud Torah Schools successfully initiated full day schools in the 1930s, and the high school was opened in 1946.[1] Herzliah's first classes were held with Melech Magid, who had been a teacher and principal with the United Talmud Torah schools since the early 1920s, as the full-time Educational Director.[7]

In 1959, a new campus on Saint Kevin Avenue in the Snowdon district was opened, with the Saint Joseph Boulevard building closing shortly afterwards. In 1962, an elementary school opened in the town of Saint-Laurent, and a high school shortly thereafter;[8] the Beutel campus in St. Laurent (both high school and elementary) was closed and merged with the Snowdon campus in 2011, because of increasing financial problems and decreasing enrolment.[9][10] A merger of the United Talmud Torah–Herzliah schools with JPPS–Bialik, another Jewish school system and long the primary competitor with UTT–Herzliah, was announced in February 2011, but was soon rejected.[11][12]

In 2016, Herzliah and the Talmud Torah elementary school were renamed The Azrieli Schools in recognition of the Azrieli Foundation's $15-million donation towards the building of a new high school campus.[13] Herzliah moved to a new campus on Mountain Sights Avenue in 2018, next to the Montreal YM-YWHA; the campus was named in honour of Sylvan Adams, who made a $15-million contribution to the $20-million endowment established as part of the project.[13]

Arson in the elementary school library[edit]

United Talmud Torah library after attack

On April 5, 2004, a few hours before the beginning of Passover, a fire was set in the UTT St. Laurent campus' library.[14] Approximately 15,000 books, along with all of the library’s furniture and computers, were destroyed in the fire, causing more than $600,000 in damages;[15] the perpetrators left a note on the school door and contacted a local TV station, stating their attack was in retaliation for Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin.[16]

Sleiman El-Merhebi and Simon Zogheib were later charged with arson and conspiracy. El-Merhebi pleaded guilty to arson in January 2005 and was sentenced to 40 months in prison in exchange for prosecutors dropping a conspiracy charge.[17] Police charged Rouba El-Merhebi Fahd, the boy's mother, for acting as an accessory after the fact because she tried to arrange for her son to leave the country and go to Brazil after the attack, she was convicted in 2008 and served 12 months probation.[18] Charges against Zogheib were dropped due to insufficient evidence in October 2004.[19] A court-ordered reporting ban limits available information on the case against Zogheib.


Prime Minister Paul Martin responded to the attack, saying "we must utterly condemn this cowardly and racist act and draw together to fight such an abomination."[20] Jean Charest, the Premier of Quebec, called the arson intolerable. "Burning a school is in itself a vile act, because it touches the future of our society, but when it is done in the name of racism and intolerance, every Quebecer must stand up and denounce it to ensure this never happens again," he said in a statement.[21] Irwin Cotler, who is a graduate of United Talmud Torahs, also responded to the incident, saying "anti-Semitism is not something new to me, but this kind of racist hate, this kind of violence, an attack of this nature, that was never something that we could have contemplated at that time as students."[22] The Canadian Library Association published a special issue of School Libraries in Canada devoted to the tragedy.[23] HarperCollins, Random House and other leading publishers have donated books to rebuild the UTT library.

Donations from across Canada, the United States and Israel helped to rebuild the library which reopened in December 2004, named the Azrieli Library in honour of Stephanie Azrieli, UTT’s school librarian from 1975 to 1985. Further funds went into improving the safety and security of the school, with the installation of exterior lights, a new fire alarm and a security camera system. In accordance with Jewish law, on November 30, the remnants and ashes of some 250 library books burned in the fire were buried in a Jewish cemetery in Dollard-des-Ormeaux.


In the 2007 Fraser Institute Quebec secondary school rankings, Herzliah Snowdon's English section was tied with Collège Jean-Eudes and Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf for top high school in the province.[24] In 2008, the Ministry of Education of Quebec announced that Herzliah High School ranked first among English private high schools with a 100% graduation rate.[citation needed] In 2018, Herzliah was ranked 77th in the province (out of 452) by the Fraser Institute.[25]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hirschberg, Jack Jacob (1989). Secular and parochial education of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jewish children in Montreal: A study in ethnicity (Thesis). McGill University.
  2. ^ Srebrnik, Henry Felix (2011). Creating the Chupah: The Zionist Movement and the Drive for Jewish Communal Unity in Canada, 1898-1921. Boston: Academic Studies Press. ISBN 978-1-936235-71-1.
  3. ^ "A Finding Aid to the United Talmud Torahs Fonds" (PDF). Jewish Public Library Archives. Montreal: Jewish Public Library. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  4. ^ Margolis, Rebecca (2011). Jewish Roots, Canadian Soil: Yiddish Cultural Life in Montreal, 1905-1945. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 978-0-7735-3812-2.
  5. ^ Read, Anne (2018). "The Precarious History of Jewish Education in Quebec". Religion & Education. 45 (1): 27. doi:10.1080/15507394.2017.1367595.
  6. ^ Nadler, Allan (28 June 2011). "Montreal, a Love Story". Jewish Ideas Daily. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  7. ^ Corcos, Arlette (1997). Montréal, les Juifs et l’école (in French). Québec: Septentrion. p. 183. ISBN 9782894480786.
  8. ^ Arnold, Janice (2 January 2008). "UTT St. Laurent campus to stay open". The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
  9. ^ Arnold, Janice (14 October 2010). "St. Laurent UTT/Herzliah to close next year". The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 2013-10-08.
  10. ^ Seidman, Karen (12 October 2010). "UTT-Herzliah to leave St. Laurent". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 14 October 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  11. ^ Branswell, Brenda (11 November 2011). "Jewish day school systems scrap merger plan". The Montreal Gazette. Montreal. p. A4. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  12. ^ Wilton, Katherine (2 November 2016). "Montreal's religious and ethnic schools reposition to stay relevant". The Montreal Gazette. Montreal. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  13. ^ a b Arnold, Janice (16 August 2018). "New state-of-the-art Herzliah High School opens in Montreal". The Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  14. ^ Nersessian, Mary (14 May 2004). "Police arrest five in Jewish school bombing". The Globe and Mail.
  15. ^ "Notable Library Burnings In Our Times: United Talmud Torah School Library". Centennial College Libraries. Centennial College. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  16. ^ Burgess, Ann Wolbert (2017). Victimology: Theories and Applications (Third ed.). Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning. ISBN 9781284130195. LCCN 2017045599.
  17. ^ Peritz, Ingrid (18 December 2004). "Put library bomber in jail, Crown says". The Globe and Mail.
  18. ^ Peritz, Ingrid (19 September 2008). "Mother accessory to bombing, court rules". The Globe and Mail. Montreal.
  19. ^ "Charges dropped against one suspect in firebombing of Montreal school". CBC News. 19 October 2004.
  20. ^ Hamilton, Graeme (6 April 2004). "Anti-Israel letters found at site". National Post. Associated Press.
  21. ^ "Prime minister condemns attack on Montreal Jewish school". CBC News. Montreal. 6 April 2004. Archived from the original on 7 April 2004.
  22. ^ Galloway, Gloria (6 April 2004). "'This is not our Canada'". The Globe and Mail. Burlington.
  23. ^ "Destruction of the United Talmud Torah Grade School Library" (PDF). School Libraries in Canada. Canadian Association for School Libraries. 23 (4). 2004. ISSN 1710-8535.
  24. ^ Boyer, Marcel; Cowley, Peter (2007). "Bulletin des écoles secondaires du Québec 2007" (PDF) (in French). Fraser Institute.
  25. ^ Cowley, Peter; Labrie, Yanick (2018). "Bulletin des écoles secondaires du Québec 2018" (PDF) (in French). Fraser Institute.
  26. ^ Lazarus, David (15 October 2018). "Israel should be a 'Hebrew republic,' Avishai says". The Canadian Jewish News. Montreal.
  27. ^ "Leading-edge facility will be linked to Montreal's Jewish Community Campus". Newswire. Montreal. 16 June 2016.
  28. ^ Levy, Elias (3 July 2015). "Adam Braz ou la passion du Soccer". The Canadian Jewish News (in French).
  29. ^ a b c Sherman, Kenneth (9 March 2012). "Irving Layton at 100". National Post.
  30. ^ Hale, James; Stanley, Laura (4 October 2018). "Leonard Cohen". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Canada. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  31. ^ Lazarus, David (13 January 2011). "Montreal native is a mixed martial arts broadcaster". The Canadian Jewish News.
  32. ^ Arnold, Janice (19 April 1989). "Rethink policy on Soviet Jews: Hershon". The Canadian Jewish News. Montreal. p. 23.
  33. ^ Lungen, Paul (20 November 2015). "Six Jewish MPs part of Parliament". Jewish Independent.
  34. ^ "Charles Krauthammer". Conversations with Bill Kristol. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  35. ^ Keri, Jonah [@jonahkeri] (6 September 2012). "@slp1313 Herzliah, in Montreal. Jewish school obvs" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  36. ^ Block, Irwin (10 September 2014). "Former CSL mayor Robert Libman back in action in Mount Royal for Tories". The Senior Times.
  37. ^ Segal, Hugh (2010). The Long Road Back: Creating Canada's New Conservative Party. Harper Collins Canada. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-554-68948-4.