The Montreal Hebrew Old People’s and Sheltering Home, or Moshav Zkainim (Settlement of Elders), was founded in 1910 by Rabbi Simon Glazer, who was famous for his dedication to the downtown immigrant community. At that time, the massive arrival of impoverished Jews from Eastern Europe strained the community’s existing resources, and more charities were therefore created to cater to the needs of this new population. At first, the Moshav Zkainim also housed transients and children – it shared premises with the Montreal Hebrew Orphans Home – and was located right at the heart of the Jewish immigrant neighborhood, on Evans Street. Besides being a senior’s residence, it also offered dental, medical, religious, recreational and social services. In 1923, a second home was established on Hotel de Ville Street, named after the home’s founders, B. and S. Steinhouse. A third home on Cadieux (now de Bullion) briefly existed as well in the mid-1920s, named Nachalus Zkainim Old People’s Home.
In 1927, with the growing number of elderly Jewish citizens in the city, the homes agreed to raise funds, with the help of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Montreal, for a single larger location on Esplanade Street. Initially, the residence was meant for elderly people who did not require constant medical supervision. However, by the 1940s the Jewish community was not only growing larger, but its population was older. By this time, the average age of the residents of the Maimonides Hospital was over eighty. The increasing age of the residents forced the home to employ on-site medical staff as the demand for beds rose. In 1961, the home was renamed Maimonides Hospital and Home for the Aged, after the medieval Sephardic physician, Torah commentator and philosopher, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon.
The population of Jewish elderly continued to rise in the 1960s. In 1964, almost eight acres of property in Côte-St-Luc were purchased for the new Maimonides home, which would become a five-storey building with 287 beds. In 1967, the Maimonides created a volunteer-run “Meals on Wheels” group to assist elderly Jews in their homes – a first in the Jewish community. The Maimonides Hospital added two new floors in 1983, which brought the bed capacity to 387. Changing its name to Maimonides Geriatric Centre in 2002, Maimonides celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in 2010.
Compiled by Valérie Beauchemin and David Gilbert.
Arnold, Janice. "Maimonides Geriatric Centre Celebrates 100 Years." Canadian Jewish News Thursday, 15 July 2010.
Gilliland, Jason and Mary-Anne Poutanen. “Mapping Work in Early Twentieth-Century Montreal: Rabbi Simon Glazer, Social Mobility, and the Jewish Community”. Unpublished, 2010.
"History of Maimonides." Maimonides Website.
King, Joe. Fabled City The Jews of Montreal. Montreal: Price-Patterson Ltd, 2009.
Images courtesy of ADJCA and JPL-A.