Manuel Batshaw, ‘architect of Montreal’s Jewish community,’ dies at 101

Marcy Oster

MONTREAL (JTA)—Manuel (Manny) Batshaw, the first Jew to earn an honorary doctoral degree from McGill University and a leader of Montreal’s Jewish community, died at the age of 101.

Batshaw, who died on Monday, was considered “the architect of Montreal’s Jewish community” for his work, from 1968 on, in structuring some of the community’s main institutions and for his renown as a discreet community “fixer.”

The institutions Batshaw worked with include the Jewish Federation-CJA and its network of social service agencies, where he served for 12 years as executive director, and Jewish schools.

A social worker by training, in 1975 Batshaw issued an exhaustive report on child abuse that set the stage for Quebec to establish such institutions as the Batshaw Youth and Family Services Centre and legislation including the Youth Protection Act.

For years Batshaw served as advisor to his friend, community leader and Seagram’s liquor magnate Charles Bronfman. After retiring from official community life, Batshaw became Bronfman’s Director of Jewish Affairs.

Batshaw continued performing volunteer community work as a fundraiser well into his 90s.