The Calgary Jewish Academy (CJA) was founded in 1987 as a result of the amalgamation of Calgary’s first Jewish day schools: the Calgary Hebrew School (1912) and the I.L. Peretz School (1927). The Calgary Jewish Academy has strong roots in the Jewish community and has a long history of educational achievement.
In May 2013, the Calgary Jewish Academy celebrated 100 years of Jewish education in Calgary. The school can trace its earliest beginnings to 1910, when there were nearly one hundred Jewish families in the City of Calgary. During this period of instruction, nineteen students were enrolled in classes. The school, named the Talmud Torah, operated in a single room and was associated with the Synagogue. It did not begin to function as a separate entity until years later.
During 1911, the school closed briefly. It re-opened in 1912, under the direction of Jacob Diamond and a ‘Vaad Ha-ir’ (Community Council) was formed to regulate the religious and educational activities of the Jewish community. Before long it had three teachers and 100 students. The year 1913 marks the true opening of the school and under the guidance of the Vaad Ha’ir the school became a separate entity from the synagogue. This separation marked the start of 100 years of Calgary’s continuous Jewish education. This move was directed by S. Jaffe, B. Margolis and M. Olin. The school was relocated to 4th Avenue (between 2nd and 3rd Streets SE).
At the close of the First World War, the Talmud Torah acquired its own building. The next ten years marked a time of steady growth for the school and in 1930 the school relocated to a new community building. It was then a kindergarten program was established.
In 1939, Rabbi A. Horowitz was appointed Western Executive Director of the Zionist organization, and immediately set about to establish a renaissance in Hebrew education. In 1942, after accepting the principalship of the Talmud Torah, Rabbi Horowtiz revitalized the entire school curriculum and the school gained a reputation as one of the top Jewish educational facilities in Canada. Under his direction a Hebrew Library was inaugurated and a High School division of evening classes was established.