Kiva Katznelson: Finding Work in Montreal
Location:San Francisco, CA
Date:Wednesday, April 30, 1975
ID:Digital audio recording #: 19.75-09
KK: When I was 20 I had to go to the army, that was the regulations for the tsar’s time. And it was in that year, in 1914, that was a matter of…like talking that a war would break out pretty soon. So I decided either to go to the army or better go either to United States or Canada. And I left my wife and child and I went to Canada because my mother had a brother in Montreal. To make this story short I would like to say that coming to Montreal I…went to, to my uncle. It was the first day of Pesach. I arrived in Montreal from Halifax. My uncle took me to the shul at Yontif. And introduced me to the Rabbi Garber. He was the chief rabbi in Montreal and I was very much acquainted…At that time my voice was so good I [inaudible], from time to time. And delighted me the way I doven [Yiddish for pray] for Yontif. So one time the Rabbi Garber, Simcha Garber he asked me what I was going to do. Well, I said I didn’t decided yet but, you know, I had something to do. He suggested to me, “You are a yeshiva bocher [Yiddish for young student], scholarly person, and you could sing. I would advise you…How’s about to have some Hebrew lessons, to give Hebrew lessons…”
MF: So he didn’t suggest that you become a cantor? When you said you were a dovening that means in English you were a cantor.
KK: No, not really that. Not a cantor but really a teacher.
MF: A teacher.
KK: A teacher. To take Hebrew and to teach Hebrew. After Pesach he says, “First I’ll give you my two eyniklekh…
KK: Grandchildren. And to give them lessons. And his grandchildren was one of the really famous people in Montreal at that time, Rosenberg, Greenberg, and some others. They had a big family. Even at present time, his son, Garber, was the president of the Congress, of the Jewish Congress, Rosenberg is. And I was, I succeeded in having so many lessons that was really impossible for me to handle them all. I went over to the board of education at the Talmud Torah to inquire if I could change instead of to give lessons to go around to one place to another during the winter time it was very hard and cold, so they asked me to come over to the Talmud Torah, and I was then a teacher of the Talmud Torah in Montreal. Two years later I became principal of the Talmud Torah in Montreal.