Adjust size of text


Follow us and continue the conversation

Your saved articles

You haven't saved any articles

What are you looking for?

Remembering the ‘Folks Shul’ of Montreal

TJI Pick
Print this

Published: 30 July 2019

Last updated: 5 March 2024

GOLDIE MORGENSTERN: A memoir of one of North America’s first and most enduring day schools, and where those kids ended up

WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I attended one of North America’s first and most enduring Jewish day schools, the Jewish People’s School of Montreal, affectionately and colloquially known as the Folks Shule (the people’s school). The Jewish People’s School was the product of Jewish reaction to the unique cultural and historical circumstances of the city in which it was founded.

Montreal at the beginning of the 20th century was the largest city in Canada and one that was divided between two religious and linguistic groups, who were not particularly friendly to each other: French Canadians who were primarily Catholic, and English Canadians who were primarily Protestant.

In the early 20th century, Jews made up the largest non-Christian minority in the province of Quebec. As the century progressed, their numbers kept rising in response to economic hardship and persecutions in Europe, especially the Holocaust.

This meant that until 1976, when the separatist Parti Québécois came to power, fuelling a mass exodus of Montreal Jews to Toronto, Montreal had the largest Jewish community in Canada, and Yiddish was the third most commonly spoken language in the city after French and English.

FULL STORY The Jewish people’s school of Montreal (Tablet)

Photo: Jewish school of Montreal yearbook

Keep our publication free:
Support quality journalism with your donation

Since 2015, TJI has provided an independent voice on Australia, Israel and the Jewish World at zero cost to our readers.

Your contribution — big or small — is critical in helping us create a platform for diverse content, fresh voices and regular coverage on issues that matter to you.


The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

Enter site