Search Help

You can use these strategies to make your searches more effective:

  1. Important tips
  2. Improve your searches by using symbols
  3. Emailing, saving, printing or requesting items from a list
  4. Fee structure for copying requests
  5. Glossary of terms relating to Jewish ceremonies and holidays
  6. Troubleshooting and FAQ

1. Important tips

  • A general keyword query explores all the data on the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network. For a more refined search of historical, cultural, and genealogy-related subjects, we encourage you to use Advanced Search.
  • You can use the Browse tabs at the top of the Advanced Search page to get ideas about what is available on this site.
  • To learn more about the Family History resources offered here, please consult the Family History page.
  • When you arrive at a page of initial results, use the Narrowing options at right to refine your search.
  • We may house materials on your specific subject which have not yet been posted to this database. If your search results in no information, we encourage you to contact us directly.

2. Improve your searchs by using symbols

Wildcard Searches

To perform a single character wildcard search use the ? symbol. For example, a search for Rubin? R?bin, ?ubin finds the names Rubins/Rubing; Rubin/Rabin; Rubin/Dubin, and more.


To perform a multiple character (0 or more) wildcard search use the * symbol. For example, to find test, tests or tester, you can use the search: test*. When searching for names, Sh*fer, *haffer, Shaf* gives results for Shaffer/Shaeffer; Shaffer/Schaffer; Shaffer/Shaffir/Shafmn.


You can also use the * symbol in the middle of a term. E.g. te*t


Fuzzy Searches

Use the tilde ~ symbol at the end of a Single word Term. For example to search for a term similar in spelling to "Shaffer" (such as "Schaefer", "Sheffer", "Shafer", "Schoffer", etc.) use the fuzzy search:


An additional parameter can specify the required similarity. The value is between 0 and 1, with a value closer to 1 only terms with a higher similarity will be matched. For example:


The default that is used if the parameter is not given is 0.5.

Proximity Searches

Use the tilde ~ symbol at the end of a Multiple word Term. For example, to search for refugees and canada that are within 10 words apart:

"refugees canada"~10

Range Searches, including searches for a range of years

To perform an inclusive range search you can use the [ ] characters. For example to search for a term that starts with either A, B, or C:

[A TO C]

To perform an exclusive range search you an use the { } characters. For example, to search for a term that starts with either B or C, but not A or D:

{A TO D}

When searching for a range of years, use TO and enclose the numbers in square (inclusive) or curly (exclusive) brackets. For example, [1900 TO 1910] includes all the years in this set, while {1900 TO 1910} only shows results for 1901-1909.

[1900 TO 1910]

Phrase Searches

Enclose a phrase in quotation marks to search for that exact phrase. For example to search for refugees in canada, use:

"refugees in canada"

Boosting a Term

To apply more value to a term, you can use the ^ character. For example, to give more value to the term "canada", you can try the following search:

refugees canada^5

Boolean Operators

Boolean operators allow terms to be combined with logic operators. The following operators are allowed: AND, OR, and NOT.

Boolean operators must be ALL CAPS.


The AND operator is the default conjunction operator. This means that if there is no Boolean operator between two terms, the AND operator is used. The AND operator matches records where both terms exist anywhere in the field of a record.

To search for records that contain "refugees" and "canada" you can use the query refugees AND canada, or simply refugees canada.

refugees AND canada

The OR operator links two terms and finds a matching record if either of the terms exist in a record.

To search for documents that contain either "refugees canada" or just "canada" use the query:

"refugees canada" OR canada

The NOT operator excludes records that contain the term after NOT.

To search for documents that contain "refugees" but not "canada" use the query:

refugees NOT canada

3. Emailing, saving, printing or requesting items from a list

Once you have successfully found relevant records, you can perform several actions to work with those records:

  • Use your browser controls for standard computer functions like printing, etc.
  • Use the Share button and its options to share the record(s) or images in your e-mail or on social networking sites.
  • Click the Select button on as many records as you wish.  Once the records are selected, you can view those selections by clicking on View Selections in the blue bar at the top of the screen.
  • From the Selection list, you can save a PDF copy of your selections to a location of your choice, e-mail or print the reports, or submit a request to access the records.

4. Fee structure for copying requests

Please see our pricing information page for details.

5. Glossary of terms relating to Jewish holidays and ceremonial art

The attached document contains an illustrated list of many of the Jewish terms used on this website, especially in connection with the artifacts collection.

Glossary - PDF document, 830 KB

6. Troubleshooting and FAQ

If you are having trouble with a search, some of the most common problems and potential solutions are listed below.

I found too many records

Use the narrowing options at the right of your results in order to refine your search. You can also try some of the search tips shown above in order to produce fewer results.

I did not find any records

Click the Advanced Search link to return to the search screen, then try one of the following changes.

  • Examine the contents of the search form (especially if it is longer than the screen) to verify that you do not have query criteria left over from a previous search.
  • If you are not sure of the spelling, use an asterisk after the first few characters (for example, labo* for labor or labour).
  • Use the Browse tabs at the top of the Advanced Search page in order to search for precise terms in the collections.

I have made selections but they are not appearing in my cart

The selection cart works by using cookies generated by the CJHN database. Some browsers, such as Safari, perceive this database as separate from the framing page, and therefore view the cookie as coming from another website. This can usually be resolved by trying your search using another browser, or by modifying your browser settings.

What is a fonds? A series? A subseries?

A "fonds" is an archival term that refers to a collection of material created by a person or institution.  A "collection" is literally a collection of material not necessarily brought together by a single person or institution.  Both terms are used in Canadian archives.

Series and/or subseries help to organize archival fonds or collections in a meaningful way so that specific subject matter or types of material (e.g. photographs) can be found easily.  A single fonds or collection can be made up of several series and subseries.

Why can't I download digital copies of all the records I found?

The Canadian Jewish Heritage Network is a database and while it does contain some made-digital archival material, the bulk of the archives must be requested directly from the repository.  Check back often as new digitized material will continue to be added regularly.  If the material you wish to see is not yet available in a digital format, contact the repositories directly to discuss how we can help you access this material as easily as possible.

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