Why is this important?
Although it is hard to get to a definite number regarding the size of the Israeli-Canadian community in Toronto, it is clear that the numbers are significant (see discussion below). The vast majority of these immigrants reside in the Greater Toronto Area. Reaching out to this community is important for the benefit of Israeli-Canadians, as they are a newcomer community requiring settlement and welcome. Outreach to Israeli-Canadians also benefits Toronto’s broader local Jewish community by contributing to its cultural tapestry through the arts, and Hebrew language and Israeli culture. A unique attribute of the Israeli-Canadian community is that unlike other Jewish waves of immigration in the early and mid 20th century, this one was a voluntary immigration. Most people came through Canadian immigration programs and entered the country based upon their level of skill and education.
The 2011 National Household Survey finding of 11,460 people born in Israel or 6% of the total Jewish population is reflected in this Dashboard. Estimates of the number of Israeli-Canadians living in Greater Toronto ranges as high as 40,000. The higher number includes Hebrew-speaking FSU-born Jews who migrated from Israel to Canada and Hebrew-speaking children born in Canada to Israeli-born parents. It may also reflect the tendency of Israeli (and Russian) advocates throughout North America to believe their numbers are bigger than they are. In the future, an effort will be made to use a variety of sources including information from the Israeli consulate to get a better estimate for the broader definition of Israeli-Canadians.
How are we doing?
The Israeli-Canadian community is one that is very close-knit and grass-roots oriented. Although the more established Jewish organizations may experience an under-representation of Israelis in their programs (compared to the local general Jewish community), there are many small scale, and self-organized activities, events and informal initiatives that are important in providing connections and giving expression to the local Israeli expatriate community.
There is progress in engagement as a new generation of Israeli-Canadians become settled and integrated into Toronto’s Jewish community. There is increased participation by Israeli-Canadians at organizations such as the Miles Nadal JCC in downtown Toronto, and the JCC Schwartz/Reisman Centre in Vaughan. The focus of these programs is directed towards children and youth, with a long–term vision to make sure the children of immigrants are integrated and feel a sense of belonging to, and being part of, the Toronto Jewish Community.