At the turn of the 20th century, Montréal was home to more Jewish people than any other Canadian city, attracting an especially large Yiddish-speaking population from eastern Europe. Today, Toronto has nearly twice as many Jewish residents, but vestiges of the community's history and ongoing practices remain in Montréal's Plateau neighborhood, although more so today in the Mile End and Outremont areas. Here, places of worship, celebration of Jewish culture through arts, and the so-called bagel-and-smoked-meat wars smolder on, to the delight of local and visiting connoisseurs. The Bagg Street Shul , at the corner of rues Clark and Bagg, began as a two-family residence, was converted to a synagogue in 1920 to 1921, and has been in continuous use ever since. Other synagogues dot the neighborhood but have transitioned as the Jewish community dispersed. Edibles abound. Start the day with a bagel from either St-Viateur Bagel & Café, at 1127 av. Mont-Royal est, or Fairmont Bagel, at 74 av. Fairmont ouest in Mile End. Get a pressed salami and bologna sandwich while traveling back in time at Wilensky Light Lunch, 34 rue Fairmount ouest. For dinner, get an unforgettable smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's, 3895 bd. St-Laurent, or opt for a steak at posh Moishes, 3961 bd. St-Laurent.
The Snowdon neighborhood in western Montréal is home to the city's contemporary Jewish organizations. The Jewish Public Library (tel. 514/345-2627; www.jewishpubliclibrary.org) boasts the largest circulating collection of Judaica in North America and hosts year-round lectures, readings, and cultural events. Its archive of more than 17,000 photos of Montréal's Jewish history is in the process of being digitized to be put online. The library shares a building, the Cummings House, at 5151 Côte-Ste-Catherine with the Montréal Holocaust Memorial Centre (tel. 514/345-2605; www.mhmc.ca) and a dozen other Jewish community-service agencies. Just across the street, at 5170 Côte-Ste-Catherine, is the Segal Centre for Performing Arts, which presents plays in Yiddish, offers theater workshops, and has film programs.
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