New Waterford

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Jewish immigrants began coming to New Waterford in the early 1900s thanks to opportunities arising from the coal industry. The first organized Jewish community of about ten families settled in the town at this time.

The synagogue was built in 1922, with a Hebrew school and a residence for the Rabbi in the same building on Hudson Street. The building became the centre for social, cultural and community activities.

With little immigration to New Waterford, the Jewish population peaked at 99 in 1941. After the Second World War, Jews began to leave as the town's economic base began to decline with the closing of the main industry, the coal mines. As people in the wider community left the area, the Jewish population also dwindled to the point where, in the late 1960's, the remaining members of the community came to the conclusion that the synagogue could no longer be maintained, and were forced reluctantly to sell the building, donating the Torahs to a kibbutz in Israel. The remaining families joined synagogues in either Glace Bay or Sydney.

New Waterford's Jewish population, though small, was integral to the community at large. It included a significant portion of the commercial sector with much of Plummer Avenue, the main street, occupied by Jewish-owned businessmen. Jews were also prominent in the town's medical field , producing at least five doctors and dentists. A much-loved family physician, Dr. Danny Nathanson, was even elected mayor,serving in that position for several terms as mayor. The town council included two Jewish members, Irwin Claener, and Louis Allen. One local resident made aliyah and others rose to prominence in their chosen fields in other parts of Canada.
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