Four Hundred Brothers And Sisters
Judy Gordon

Lugus Publications

Shortlisted for the 2003 Canadian Jewish History Award, this book tells the story of two Jewish orphanages in Montreal from 1909 to 1942: the Montreal Hebrew Orphans’ Home on Claremont in Westmount, and the Montefiore Hebrew Orphans’ Home on Jeanne-Mance. (Both were referred to as MHOH.)

This is not a tale of abuse. In fact, it tells how the community stepped in to make sure these children – some of whom were not orphans as we understand the word, but children of single-parent families without a social network – were dressed, fed, and educated with the same care that all parents would want for their children.

There is a massive amount of minutiae in this volume, from the minutes of the Directors’ meetings, letters about repairs to the buildings, lists of foodstuffs required to feed the orphans, and many other details which would delight a social historian. But the meat of the book is to be found in the stories of the men and women who were once residents of the MHOH. They reminisce not only about their years there, but tell what they have done with the rest of their lives. With an association of “alumni,” a newsletter, and reunions, the “brothers and sisters” are still looking out for each other. mRb