Sylva Gelber

Pathbreaking Social Worker

Rejected by Barnard College in 1929 because the Jewish quota was full, Sylva Gelber (1910 – 2003) became the first graduate of the social work program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and went on to found the Ottawa-based Sylva Gelber Music Foundation.

Although I had been but a child at the time, I could still remember that day when Toronto Jewry, like that of other Jewish communities of other Canadian cities, celebrated that historic Declaration. I recalled how our whole family piled into my father’s Page automobile, a touring car sufficiently large to accommodate family. A large Union Jack and an equally large Zionist flag bedecked the back of the open vehicle, as we drove downtown to join an assembling crowd. I may not have understood the significance of the celebration, but I still remembered it as a happy day.

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