WEIDMAN, HIRAM ((Chaim) Leib; 1862–1933) and MORDECAI S.


WEIDMAN, HIRAM ((Chaim) Leib; 1862–1933) and MORDECAI S. (1864–1952), businessmen and Winnipeg communal leaders. Born in Orla near Bialystok in Russian Poland, the brothers moved to Winnipeg in 1882, where they lived for two years, and then worked on farms in the Jewish agricultural colony of New Jerusalem in present-day Saskatchewan. They returned to Winnipeg in 1887, when Hiram opened a grocery and jewelry business and Mordecai ran a fruit store. Both brothers branched out into other areas of retail, but their most enduring business began in 1909 when together they opened a wholesale grocery business, with Hiram as president and Mordecai as vice president.

Hiram and Mordecai shared strong anti-socialist sentiments, and were both opponents of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. But there were also some political differences between the brothers. An advocate of free trade, Hiram supported the Liberal Party and was a founder of the Hebrew Liberal Club in 1908. Mordecai, in contrast, supported the Conservative Party. He helped organized Jewish support in Winnipeg for the Conservatives, and in 1908 was chosen as one of three vice presidents of the Hebrew Conservative Club of Winnipeg. In 1910 he was elected to the executive committee of the Hebrew Conservative Association. Although an ardent Conservative, that same year Mordecai voted for Solomon Hart Green, a Liberal who became the first Jew elected to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

Both men were active in communal affairs, together founding the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue in 1889, with Hiram serving as synagogue president from 1920 to 1921. They were both strong supporters of Jewish education, and together were founders of a Hebrew literary society. Hiram also was a moving force behind the establishment of a talmud torah. Both were committed Zionists: Hiram was a founder of Winnipeg's Zionist society in 1898, and helped found the Federation of Canadian Zionist Societies a year later. In response to the 1903 Kishinev pogrom, Hiram spearheaded the formation of a committee to raise relief funds. In 1923, Hiram and Mordecai traveled to Poland, where they made donations to Jewish institutions and charities, and from there to Palestine, where their parents had immigrated in 1904. The brothers deeded the Jerusalem home of their parents to a Jewish maternal aid society, and donated money towards the home's upkeep.

In the 1920s, even as a new generation of Weidmans moved into the family business, Hiram and Mordecai retained their positions in the family firm, and continued to do so until they died. At the time of his death, Mordecai was one of the last of the Russian Jewish immigrants to Winnipeg.

[Henry Trachtenberg (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.