||English-Yiddish constitution and by-laws of the Russian Polish Hebrew Sick Benefit Ass’n. of Montreal. The verso of the title page lists the eight brothers who wrote the constitution and on the following page are the names of the officers in 1930, the president and 1st vice president being A. Wolofsky and J. Feedman. It also provider the names of the controllers, trustees, and the members of the relief committee, the hospital committee, medical committee, cemetery committee, and the doctor, M. Golt. There is a sixteen entry agenda and then the articles. The English and Yiddish are in separate sections.
Jews first went to Montreal in 1760 as officers and commissaries with the British Army under General Amherst, and after the surrender of the city to the British on Sept. 8, 1760, several Jews settled in Montreal as merchants, fur traders, exporters, and importers. They were joined by relatives and friends from England and the British colonies in North America. Among the earliest Jewish settlers in Montreal were: Lazarus and Samuel David; Andrew Hays; Uriah, Isaac, and Samuel Judah; Levy and Ezekiel Solomons; Levy and Myer Michaels; Abraham Franks, Myer Myers, Simon Levy, Barnet Lyon, and Heineman Pines. The earliest Jewish settlers in Montreal had previously lived in New York, in which the only synagogue in 1760 was the Shearith Israel Congregation, founded by Jews of Spanish and Portuguese origin, which followed the Sephardi minhag. In December 1768, when there were sufficient permanent Jewish residents in Montreal, they formed a congregation which adopted the same name and followed the same Sephardi minhag as the synagogue they had attended in New York. The small congregation worshiped in a room on 86 James Street until 1777, when the first synagogue building was erected on land owned by David David at the junction of Notre Dame and St. James streets. After the death of David David in 1824, the congregation decided to move to another site. However, it was not until 1838 that another site was purchased and a new synagogue built on Chenneville and Lagauchtiere streets, and this building served the community until 1890, when following the northward and westward growth and movement of the Jewish population, the old synagogue was sold and a new synagogue built on Stanley Street. Fifty years later, a new and larger synagogue was built in the new Snowden residential area of the city.
The congregation did not receive legal and official government recognition until 1831. Then, upon the request of the Jewish citizens of Montreal, an act was passed by the Legislative Assembly of Quebec permitting the incorporation in each of the centers of Montreal, Quebec, and Trois Rivieres of a Jewish religious body empowered to hold land for the erection of a synagogue, a minister's house, and a cemetery, and authorizing the minister of the Jewish congregation to keep a register of births, marriages, and deaths. The first minister of the Shearith Israel Congregation was the Rev. Jacob Raphael Cohen, who went to Canada from England in 1778 and held that position until 1782. He was succeeded by the Rev. R. de Lara from 1782 to 1810. From 1810 to 1840 the congregation had no minister. The Rev. David Piza served the congregation from 1840 to 1846, when he returned to England. In 1847 the Rev. Abraham de Sola, grandson of Rabbi Raphael Meldola, the hakham of the Sephardi Congregation in London, went to Montreal as spiritual leader of the Shearith Israel—Spanish and Portuguese Congregation. He held this position until his death in 1882. He was the first Sephardi rabbi to become a permanent resident in Canada, and also played a prominent role in the cultural life of the non-Jewish population of Montreal. He was appointed professor of Hebrew and oriental literature at McGill University soon after his arrival in Montreal, was for many years president of the Natural History Society of Montreal, was a prolific writer on Jewish religious and historical subjects, and was the first Jew awarded an honorary LL.D. by McGill University (in 1858). His eldest son Aaron David Meldola de Sola, born in 1853, succeeded his father on the latter's death in 1882 and officiated until his death in 1918.
In 1846 a new act of the Quebec Legislature replaced the old act of 1831 and incorporated two congregations in Montreal, the congregation of Portuguese Jews (Shearith Israel) and the congregation of German and Polish Jews. However, it was not until 1858 that Jews who preferred the Ashkenazi minhag, most of whom had previously been members of the Spanish and Portuguese congregations, were able to purchase a lot on De Bullion Street near Craig Street and erect a synagogue called the German and Polish Synagogue. This was subsequently renamed the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue, and was the first Ashkenazi Orthodox synagogue erected in Canada. In 1886 the congregation sold its synagogue building and built a new synagogue on McGill College Avenue. In 1892 a new and larger synagogue was built in the residential suburb of Westmount.
The number of Jewish congregations in metropolitan Montreal increased rapidly from 1946, and there were 40 synagogues in 1970, of which 33 were Orthodox,'three were Conservative, three were Reform, and one was Reconstructionist. Among the Orthodox congregations were four following the Sephardi minhag, which were established from 1965 on by Jewish immigrants from Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt.