THE JEWISH IDENTITIES OF TORONTO An Examination of Toronto Jewish Identity Construction Through an Analysis of UJA’s Annual Campaign 2012 ‘Jewish Toronto Lives Here’
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 13:19 by Alexandra Mia Herzig Cuperfain
The Jewish identities of the Toronto Jewish community are complex, overlapping and multifaceted. United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto (UJA) is the main international Jewish philanthropy and the main Jewish philanthropic organization in Toronto. Through an examination of UJA’s 2012 annual campaign, ‘Jewish Toronto Lives Here,’ it is possible to explore how UJA has engaged in a dialogue with its community stakeholders and supporters to determine what Jewish identities exist in Toronto and construct what Jewish Toronto means. Using grounded theory to derive the identity concepts from UJA’s 2012 annual campaign, it is apparent that there are at least eight Jewish identities in Toronto in 2012. These identities relate to religion, ethnicity, history, education, preparing for the future, advocacy, repairing the world and Israel and are depicted in the campaign through references to UJA-supported institutions and initiatives. While UJA speaks to each of these identities in the campaign, the identities are never directly defined. This lack of definition enables UJA to oversee an inclusive and diverse Jewish community in Toronto. Through an application of Judith Butler’s gender theory and Martin Buber’s phenomenological approach to the data one can better comprehend how Jewish identity is potentially performed, while also being an intrinsic aspect of community members, in Jewish Toronto. UJA’s approach of non-definition and openness to different approaches to identity is a possible method that other organizations can look to when deciding how to communicate to a diverse group of stakeholders.