Meyer Nurenberger: father of The CJN
Although his name may be little known, even within Canadian Jewish circles, Meyer Joshua Nurenberger was an internationally known writer and publisher who founded The CJN.
During a journalistic career that stretched from the 1930s to the ’90s, Nurenberger interviewed Albert Einstein, covered the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials and was editor of the Morgen Journal, a prominent New York Yiddish paper. Fluent in 10 languages, he penned articles in Hebrew and French for publications in Israel and France, and wrote the main editorial column for the New York Yiddish weekly Algemeiner Journal, until Alzheimer’s disease incapacitated him in the ’90s.
Born in Krakow in 1911, he arrived in the United States in 1938 and served as a captain and war correspondent for the U.S. Army during the Second World War. Stationed in Europe, he issued laise passé, or travel documents, that helped more than 100 Jews escape the Holocaust. He covered the Nuremberg war-crimes trials and was photographed prominently displaying a Yiddish newspaper before the prisoners in the dock.
A strong supporter of the Canadian Conservatives and the Israeli political right, Nurenberger’s political associates included former Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin, and former Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker, whom he advised on the Middle East.
It was at Begin’s suggestion that Nurenberger brought his family from New York to Toronto in 1957, to edit a Yiddish newspaper. When its office burned down in 1959, he and his wife, Dorothy Cohn Nurenberger, decided to launch an English-language Jewish paper. They were assisted by Kalman Berger, a local socialist leader, and marginally by Toronto Telegram publisher John Bassett, who reported on the paper’s birth in the Tely.
Author Lewis Levendel devoted a chapter to Nurenberger in his 1989 book, A Century of the Canadian Jewish Press: 1880s-1980s. The book characterized him as colourful, influential and fiercely independent.
Meyer Nurenberger, second from the right, holds a copy of Diary of Anne Frank, given to him by her father, Otto Frank, far right.