The Fonds consists of correspondence regarding both personal and business matters, newspaper clippings (both loose and in scrapbooks), publications by AJCS and other Jewish organizations, a published biography of Manuel Batshaw, documents regarding his time as a social worker, photographs, audio an…
The Fonds consists of correspondence regarding both personal and business matters, newspaper clippings (both loose and in scrapbooks), publications by AJCS and other Jewish organizations, a published biography of Manuel Batshaw, documents regarding his time as a social worker, photographs, audio and visual materials and awards.
There are three series present within the Fonds. Series I covers Mr. Batshaw’s personal affairs, and consists mainly of photographs, degrees, certificates, scrapbooks and correspondence. Series II covers Mr. Batshaw’s career as a social worker, and currently consists of a summary of the 1975 Batshaw Report, although further accruals are expected. Series III covers Mr. Batshaw’s professional work within the Jewish community, and consists of annual reports, publications, awards and photographs.
Manuel Gilman Batshaw (Manny) was born in Montreal on April 17, 1915. His parents, Tuvieh Batshaw and Golda Batshaw (née Gelman) immigrated to Montreal from Russia in 1903, following the birth of Manny’s older brother Harry in 1902 [?]. Harry was followed by Arthur in 1908, Frances in 1910 and finally, Manny. The family had a very limited income. While his father worked outside of the home, Manny’s mother Goldie ran a small grocery store from their home’s living room.
From childhood, Manny was quite active within the Montreal Jewish community. In 1928, as a bar mitzvah gift from his brother Harry, Manny received a membership to the YMHA. Over the years, he moved from member, to club leader, to being in charge of all clubs, and finally, to educational director. It was through this organization that Manny had his first experiences in the field of social work. At 15 years old, he joined Young Judea. At 16, he became a counselor at Camp B’nai Brith.
In 1938, Manny met Rachel Levitt (Rachie). She was also a social worker, nine years his senior. Two years later in 1940, the two were married.
In 1942, Manny volunteered for the Canadian Armed Forces. He was placed in the Infantry and was made District Social Service Officer in charge of Social Services to the Canadian Armed Forces in the province of Quebec. He began his military career as a Private and by the time the War was over had attained the rank of Captain.
After the War he was invited to become the Executive Director of the Red Cross in Montreal. As tempting as the offer was, he wanted to play a larger role within the Jewish community, so he declined.
From 1947-1968, the Batshaw family moved quite a bit living in Philadelphia, Hamilton, Atlanta, Newark, New Jersey and New York. In 1968, the Allied Jewish Community Services (AJCS) contacted Manny, and asked him to return to Montreal as Executive Director of the organization. He agreed, and remained in that position until 1980. During the “Batshaw Era,” fundraising increased five-fold and the organization expanded, made obvious by the many buildings which were constructed, including Cummings House in 1973. He personally helped to reassure the community following the implementation of Bill 65, and made it his own personal mission to look after his people. He insisted on making it the right of all Jewish children to have a Jewish education, he helped to integrate the Francophone Sephardic population into the AJCS, he organized trips for students to visit Israel, and in the face of possible Quebec separation (when many Anglophone Jews were leaving the province), he fought for French Immersion education in Jewish schools.
His compassion was felt beyond the walls of AJCS. In 1974, following a news story in The Montreal Gazette regarding the maltreatment of children in a welfare institution in La Prairie, Manny convinced Claude Forget, Minister of Health and Welfare for the province of Quebec, to allow him to form a small committee of professionals to go into the institution and make recommendations. The approval arrived the next day on a Thursday, the committee was formed the following day, and by Sunday night, the visit had been completed and the finished report had been delivered to the Minister. The recommendations were published in the local newspapers and soon after almost all of them had been implemented. Obviously impressed, Mr. Forget asked Manny to spearhead a thorough examination of the province’s 60 other institutions. What followed 11 months later was an 11-volume report, informally titled The Batshaw Committee Report. This led to the enactment of Bill 24, Quebec’s Youth Protection Act. In 1993, when the five Anglophone child welfare institutions of Quebec amalgamated, the new name was an easy choice: Batshaw Youth and Family Centres.
After his retirement from AJCS in 1980, Manny joined Claridge Inc. at the request of his friend Charles Bronfman as his Consultant on Philanthropy and Jewish Affairs. He retired from this position in 1998.