Honorary degree citation - David Rome*
By: Frank Chalk, June 1991
Mr. Chancellor, I am honoured to present to you David Rome, noted librarian, bibliographer and archivist, distinguished author, and a man dedicated to studying and preserving the record of the Jewish people's history in Canada.
Born in Vilna, Lithuania in 1910, he emigrated to Canada in 1921, settling in Vancouver. Graduating with his B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy from the University of British Columbia in 1936, Mr. Rome had already served as editor of the Western Jewish Bulletin and National Executive Director of the Labour Zionist Movement in Canada before moving to Montréal in 1938.
In Québec's great metropolis, he embarked on a multi-faceted career which included service as director of the Jewish Public Library, National Archivist of the Canadian Jewish Congress, and lecturer in Religion at McGill University, Loyola College and Concordia University. In the course of his work at the Canadian Jewish Congress, he wrote and edited over 50 significant monographs and document collections, among them publications on the first Jewish immigrants in Québec, the evolution of Henri Bourassa's views on the Jewish people, and the history of anti-semitism in Canada. He also earned an enviable reputation as an advocate of Yiddish culture.
Tout au long de sa carrière dans «La Belle province», M. Rome a été parmi les premiers à mettre tous ses efforts pour favoriser la compréhension entre les communautés juive et francophone du Québec. Il a contribué à fonder le Cercle juif de langue française en 1947 et a été secrétaire du Comité du Congrès juif canadien chargé des relations entre Juifs et Canadiens-français, de 1942 à 1953. En 1962, il devient le premier membre de la communauté juive à siéger au Conseil des arts du Ministère des affaires culturelles du Québec.
In 1986, Mr. Rome capped these achievements with the publication of a major new book, Juifs et Québécois français: 200 ans d'histoire commune, written with his friend and collaborator, Jacques Langlais. This work, now translated into English, tells a story of friction and cooperation between the two communities that constitutes a unique record of intercultural co-vivance. For his work to advance understanding of the aspirations of Jews and French Canadians, David Rome was invested as a Knight of the Order of Québec in 1987 and this year, he was awarded the Prix d'excellence des Communautés culturelles by the Ministère des affaires culturelles et de l'immigration du Québec. Now in his 80th year, he continues his work as a historian and editor at the Canadian Jewish Congress.
Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, David Rome, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of laws, honoris causa.