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Sunday, November 21 • 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Newcomer Narratives: Contemporary Jewish Immigration to the GTA

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The first Jewish permanent resident in Toronto arrived in 1838, making way for the growth and development of Canada’s largest and most diverse Jewish community. From 1901 to 1927, the Jewish population of Canada grew from under 17,000 to 125,000, with Ontario and Quebec each having close to 50,000 Jewish residents. It was during this period that the newly formed Canadian Jewish Congress formed the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society of Canada, which later changed its name to Jewish Immigrant Aid Services.

The Jewish community in the GTA continues to grow thanks to immigration – and may be seen as a microcosm of the global Jewish community. In recent years, JIAS Toronto has welcomed Jewish newcomers from around the world, including (but not limited to!) various republics of the Former Soviet Union, Europe, Mexico, Central and South America, Turkey, India, South Africa, Australia, and of course Israel. Join us at Limmud to meet current-day Jewish immigrants from far-flung communities and explore what drew them to GTA, some of the challenges they’ve faced, the surprises of resettlement, and how they’re connecting Jewishly!

[*Note that this panel session will feature 4 immigrants from any of the various countries... we will submit speakers/bios if/when the session is approved: India, Mexico, Brazil, France, Turkey, Russia, Israel]

avatar for Alon Gurfel

Alon Gurfel

Alon Gurfel was born and raised in Israel and moved to the GTA in 2018 with his husband. Alon is a Registered Nurse. In Israel he worked in a major hospital, and in Canada he is bringing his skills to the community. Last summer he worked at a Jewish summer camp as the Camp Nurse and... Read More →
avatar for Elise Herzig

Elise Herzig

Elise Herzig is the Executive Director of JIAS (Jewish Immigrant Aid Services) Toronto, with 30 years of experience as a senior executive and consultant in the private and public sectors. Her lifelong Jewish community involvement includes volunteerism with organizations including... Read More →
avatar for Teresa Berkman

Teresa Berkman

Teresa Berkman is a young professional who immigrated with her husband from Mexico City to Toronto in 2012. Teresa is a proud mom of 3 kids and balances being a mother with her professional career. Teresa is an experienced Sr. Manager with 10+ years of experience leading complex projects... Read More →
avatar for Robi Bahar

Robi Bahar

Born and raised in Turkey, Robi Bahar has been an active member of various Jewish organizations in Istanbul since his childhood. (He was even one of the presenters at Limmud Turkey in 2006.)  He moved to Canada in 2017 and has benefited from JIAS programs aimed at connecting newcomers... Read More →
avatar for Deborah Bhonkar

Deborah Bhonkar

Deborah Bhonkar grew up in Mumbai, India and moved to the US to pursue her graduate studies, before immigrating to Toronto in 2017.  Deborah has an MBA and MS from New York, and has worked in marketing at companies like Unilever, Mattel, David Yurman, and American Express.  She... Read More →

Sunday November 21, 2021 4:00pm - 5:00pm EST