Home Culture Books & Authors French-language history of Quebec Jews wins J.I. Segal Award

French-language history of Quebec Jews wins J.I. Segal Award

Pierre Anctil (Richard-Max Tremblay photo)

Pierre Anctil is the winner of a 2018 J.I. Segal Award for best book in English or French, for his book, Histoire des Juifs du Québec.

The cover of Histoire des Juifs du Québec. (Les Editions du Boréal)

Anctil, a history professor at the University of Ottawa, has specialized in the history and culture of the Jews of Quebec for four decades. He is notably also the author of a book on Jacob Isaac Segal, for whom the biennial awards are named.

Since 1993, he has translated a dozen Yiddish works published in Montreal in the 20th century.

Ira Robinson, director of the Concordia Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies, said that Histoire des Juifs du Québec “is a remarkable book from two perspectives. The first is that it stands as the first comprehensive, single-authored scholarly history of the Jews in the province of Quebec. The second is that it is written in French and aimed at a francophone audience.

“(Anctil) is a Québécois scholar who has sought to understand and describe the many ways in which the centuries-old presence of Jews in Montreal has made a significant difference in the evolution of Quebec as a whole.”

The book was also shortlisted for a Governor General’s Literary Award this year.


Anctil, a native of Quebec City, was presented with the award at a gala at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal on Nov. 14. This year’s awards recognize excellence in published works and films on Jewish themes.

The other winners were:

  • Dr. Hirsh and Dvora Rosenfeld Award for Yiddish Literature: Ber Kotlerman, a Bar-Ilan University Yiddish studies professor, for Der sod fun vayse bern, and international scholars Velvl Chernin, Michael Felsenbaum, Valery Dymshits and Dov-Ber Kerler for A ring: Antologye: Yidishe poezye, der nokhn hurbndor;
  • Dr. Hirsh and Dvora Rosenfeld Award for Hebrew Literature: Ehud Diskin, a former Israeli army officer, for the historical novel, Lone Wolf in Jerusalem;
  • Mona Elaine Adilman English Fiction and Poetry Award: Ariela Freedman, who teaches literature at Concordia University, for her debut novel, Arabic For Beginners;
  • English Non-Fiction Award: Daniel Kupfert Heller, a McGill University adjunct professor in Jewish studies, for Jabotinsky’s Children: Polish Jews and the Rise of Right-Wing Zionism;
  • Shulamis Yelin Award for French Literature: Olga Hazan, a Université du Québec à Montréal art history associate professor, for Stratégies figuratives dans l’art juif;
  • Concordia University Azrieli Institute Award for Best Book in Israel Studies: Indiana University Jewish studies professor Noam Zadoff for Gershom Scholem: From Berlin to Jerusalem and Back;
  • Translation Award for a Book: Vivian Felsen of Toronto for The Vale of Tears, a memoir by Rabbi Pinchas Hirschprung, translated from Yiddish; and
  • Michael Moskovitz Award for a Film: Edith Jorisch for the documentary, L’héritier, which is about her grandfather Georges Jorisch’s successful recovery of art looted from his relatives by the Nazis. The film won two of Quebec’s Prix Gémeaux, including for best documentary for biography or portrait.

The Yaacov Zipper Award in Education was not bestowed this year.