TORONTO (Aug. 18)
Recently more than 100 descendants and friends of the Jews who farmed at Hirsch, Saskatchewan for over half a century, gathered there at a ceremony to mark the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. Norman Vickor, who is Saskatchewan’s Minister of Industry and Commerce and himself a member of a pioneer Jewish farm family in western Canada, unveiled the plaque which notes that the agricultural settlement, named after the philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch, was established in 1892 and existed for 50 years.
Eight-year-old Zack Muscovitch, a fifth generation descendant of the Hirsch pioneers, handed over the keys and the records of the cemetery to Marjorie Blankstein, Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) western regional chairman. The burial grounds were established in the early days of the colony on the land of a settler named Blank. It later come under the ownership of the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), which has recently disposed of all the land it still possessed in western Canada.
In its heyday Hirsch had 200 residents, with three stores, a hotel and a school. There were three synagogues. Descendants of the Hirsch settlers came to the event from as far away as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Sault Ste. Marie, Winnipeg and Toronto.
There are three Jews still farming in the area and one of these, Harvey Kleiman, presided at the commemorative program. The other two are Jack Kleiman and Alex Schopp. Schopp’s father, Michael, was the last person to be buried in the Hirsch cemetery; this was in 1970 and he was 94.