Jewish Family Services

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History of Jewish Family Services - Montreal

"The Jewish Community of Montreal had for more than 100 years prior organized and managed social services from which it took care of its needy...."

1905 Montreal's St-Lawrence Street

Bill 120, legislation put forward by the provincial government in 1993, outlined a reform which changed the way health and social services would be delivered to the Quebec population. First it would eliminate the Social Service Centre as the primary establishment that delivered social services to all age groups and different social problems. It then created the Youth Centre which offered a wraparound service to all children under the age of 18 in need of protection or those who had committed an offense. One Youth Centre per region of the province was created, and two for Montreal, one for the French speaking community and the other for English speaking community of Montreal. This created a problem for the Jewish community who had previously received services from Jewish Family Services Social Service Centre which offered services on a regional and religious basis rather than a linguistic basis.

The Jewish Community of Montreal had for more than 100 years prior organized and managed social services from which it took care of its needy including children and youth who required child welfare and child protection services, including foster care and adoption. A value of the Jewish Community is to assure that Jewish children needing substitute family care are placed with other Jewish families be it for foster care or adoption.

To continue to assure that these “Jewish “fundamental services continued into perpetuity, in advance of the implementation of this legislation, the community organized a work group composed of a wide range of involved and knowledgeable community members, and chaired by its Executive Director Emeritus, Mr. Manny Batshaw to assure that the services that the community deemed to be fundamental and non-negotiable continue to be offered.

Ville Marie Social Service Centre, which at that time was itself in a retooling process to become the Youth Centre for Montreal’s English speaking population, agreed, without hesitation, to absorb a mandate within the new organization to service Jewish children and their families requiring child protection and adoption services in a manner that respected their cultural and religious needs regardless of the language spoken by the families.

With this agreement, the community formed what was called the Jewish Advisory Committee, a formal committee of the board of directors of what was then renamed Batshaw Youth and Family Services. This committee, first chaired by Mr. Manny Batshaw, had an advisory and monitoring role. This committee continued to assert its role at “Batshaw” for many years, and was dissolved when the services were fully integrated into Batshaw and the monitoring and oversight could be assumed by the organization itself.

*** The history of Jewish Family Services in Montreal written by Howard Nadler, former social worker at Jewish Family Services, Ville Marie Social Services and Batshaw Family Services.