Rabbi Jonathan Plaut was the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel in Jackson, Michigan, and Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth El in Traverse City, Michigan. He served Congregation Beth El in Windsor, Ontario from 1970 to 1984 and Temple Emanu-El in San Jose, California, from 1985 to 1993. From 1993 to 1999 he was engaged in major fundraising projects. Rabbi Plaut died in April 2012 at the age of 69.
The Jews of Windsor, 1790-1990
Beginning with the first Jewish settler, Moses David, the important role that Windsor Jews played in the development of Ontario’s south is mirrored in this 200-year chronicle. the founding pioneer families transformed their Eastern European shtetl into a North American settlement; many individuals were involved in establishing synagogues, schools, and an organized communal structure in spite of divergent religious, political, and economic interests.
Modernity and the growing influences of Zionism and Conservative/Reform Judaism challenged the traditional and leftist leanings of the community’s founders. From the outset, Jews were represented in city council, actively involved in communal organizations, and appointed to judicial posts. While its Jewish population was small, Windsor boasted Canada’s first Jewish Cabinet members, provincially and federally, in David Croll and Herb Gray. As the new millennium approached, jews faced shrinking numbers, forcing major consolidations in order to ensure their survival.