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David Rome

ROME, DAVID (1910–1996), Canadian historian. Rome was born in Vilna, Lithuania. From his first experiences in Canada the 11-year-old was, in his words, "thrown into Canadian Jewish history" as, due to a sudden change in Canada's Immigration Law, boatloads of Jewish immigrants in the fall of 1921 were detained in the Halifax immigration sheds. The four members of the Rome family finally arrived in Vancouver in December 1921.

Rome obtained a B.A. in English literature at the University of British Columbia in 1936 while working as editor for the Jewish Western Bulletin. After studying literature at the University of Seattle in Washington between 1936 and 1938, he obtained a degree in library science from McGill University (1939) and in English literature from the Université de Montréal (1962).

Upon his initial arrival in Montreal, which he later made his home, Rome was the national director of the Labor Zionist organization from 1939 to 1940. Following a two-year stint in Toronto as editor of the Daily Hebrew Journal, Rome returned definitively to Montreal in 1942, joining the Canadian Jewish Congress as press officer and editor of the Congress Bulletin. He also served as secretary of the Committee for Jewish-French-Canadian Relations from 1942 to 1953, beginning what became an enduring commitment to English-French and Christian-Jewish dialogue. During his early years at CJC he worked with many of the shapers of the Canadian Jewish community: Samuel *Bronfman and Saul *Hayes, H.M. *Caiserman and Louis *Rosenberg. During those years he became something of a spokesman and representative for the Canadian Jewish community, even ghostwriting for CJC's general secretary H.M. Caiserman and other community figures.

From 1953 to 1972, Rome enjoyed a more public role, for which he is remembered by many, as director of the Montreal Jewish Public Library. During these years, he also lectured in the Department of Religion at the forerunner of the current Concordia University in Montreal. He then returned to CJC in 1973 to become the archivist and later historian of the organization. In his later years, he was officially honored on several occasions, receiving CJC's H.M. Caiserman Award in 1980, being invested as a Knight in the Order of Québec in 1987, followed by the Prix d'excellence award by Government of Quebec Ministry of Cultural Communities and Immigration in April 1991, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Concordia University, in June 1991.

David Rome is the author of Les Juifs du Québec, bibliographie rétrospective annotée, with Judith Nefsky and P. Obermeir (1979), co-author with Jacques Langlais of Les Juifs et les québécois français: 200 ans d'histoire commune (1986) (Eng., 1991), and The Stones that Speakx/ Les pierres qui parlent (1992). Between 1974 and 1994, he authored over 60 monographs on Canadian Jewish history, in the Canadian Jewish Archives, New Series and Clouds in the Thirties, On Anti-Semitism in Canada (1929–1939). His last years were devoted to the compilation and translation of articles from Canadian Yiddish sources.

From his desk at the National Archives of CJC, David Rome continued until his 1994 retirement, and indeed, despite failing health, until the end of his days, to instruct and to absorb the experience of Canadian Jewish history in a changing society.

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