Submitted by Jerry on Jun, 13
King Billy and the Toronto Free Hebrew School/ The Associated Hebrew School
I saw King Billy at an Orange parade once. There wasn't much of a crowd. He was there riding on his signature white horse. It was in 1963. There were a few Orange supporters and a few people like me just watching. The wind had changed and Orange was going out. It seemed strange and out of place. It was a parade but nobody came. It was probably the last time they were here in Toronto. Maybe they went to Gravenhurst. I've lived in Toronto 70 years. I was born here. My background is Jewish. I participate in the community, I go to synagogue. One of my first memories at school was all the children in nursery and kindergarten, walking and holding onto a rope across College street to the fire station. When I was a kid I went to a Jewish school at College and Brunswick. It used to be a Hebrew school, now it's an old people's home or something. It was the first Hebrew school. Before that they might have taught in Yiddish. For three hours a day (the morning) we only heard and spoke Hebrew. The school is now called the Associated Hebrew School. Before, it was called the Toronto Free Hebrew School. It was a mixed school, boys and girls, fairly enlightened. To know Hebrew well enough to teach it at that time you had to be enlightened. Israel was just being created at the time. There were about 450 children. I was in the 5th graduating class. We all did really well with school, even with the three hours of Hebrew a day. I still remember kids coming in who had been in the prison camps in the 1950s. They were thin and they dressed differently than us. They weren't ostracised, they made friends. There were 20,000-30,000 Jewish people in Toronto. We took in a lot after the war. Maybe 8,000-10,000 came in after the war. There were some kosher stores. A fish store at Harbord and Brunswick. And right by the school there was a Kosher butcher Greenspan's butcher. Did you know Toronto has the only Synagogue named after the patron Saint of Scotland, Saint Andrew? Of course it's called that because it's on Saint Andrew street.