Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture

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Coordinates: 49°13′45.18″N 123°07′4.45″W / 49.2292167°N 123.1179028°W / 49.2292167; -123.1179028

The Peretz Centre

The Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture is a centre for secular Jewish culture and humanistic Judaism in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The stated purpose of the Peretz Centre is to "provide a quality alternative approach to Jewish life through the appreciation of Jewish history and culture in the context of world history, and the celebration of secular (non-religious) and humanist Jewish traditions."

The Peretz Centre is affiliated with the International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews, the Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver.[1]

It is associated with Vancouver's Jewish left community.[2]


Gathering at Peretz School in 1945

The Vancouver Peretz Institute, also known as the Vancouver Peretz Shule,[1] was founded in 1945 at 13th Avenue and Birch Street[3] in response to the threat to Jewish culture and Yiddish language posed by the Holocaust and World War II. The centre was named after Isaac Leib Peretz, a prominent figure in Yiddish literature and culture.[1]

In 1959–1960 it had 118 children, but by 1971 its enrolment had dropped to below 50.[2]

In 2001, a new building was constructed at the same location, and the name was changed to the "Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture".[1]


The Peretz Centre runs a two-year B'nai Mitzvah program, a coming-of-age ceremony for boys and girls, that focuses on learning about Jewish history and culture.[4]

The centre also hosts the Vancouver Jewish Folk Choir, which performs Jewish songs in Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino, and English.[5]

In addition, the Peretz centre has Yiddish classes, senior programs, and Sunday School,[6] and regularly hosts secular versions of Jewish holidays.[7]

It is also home to the Jewish Museum & Archives of British Columbia, Ahavat Olam Synagogue, Bravo Dance, Jewish Food Bank storage and distribution, Kol Halev Performance Ensemble, MOST/Bridge Russian Seniors, Outlook Magazine, and the Vancouver Jewish Film Festival.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d "History of the Peretz Centre". Peretz Centre for Secular Judaism. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  2. ^ a b Elazar, Daniel J.; Waller, Harold M. (1990). Maintaining Consensus: The Canadian Jewish Polity in the Postwar World. University Press of America. pp. 399, 401.
  3. ^ "First Peretz School Parent-Teacher Association, Vancouver". Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  4. ^ "B'nai Mitsvah Program" (PDF). Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  5. ^ "Vancouver Jewish Folk Choir". Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  6. ^ "Programs". Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  7. ^ "Rituals and Ceremonies". Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture. Retrieved 10 September 2011.
  8. ^ Wolak, Arthur (6 April 2011). "BC's Jewish Museum finds new home at Peretz Centre". Jewish Tribune. Retrieved 19 October 2011.

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