An excerpt from

Montreal of Yesterday: Jewish Life in Montreal 1900-1920
by Israel Medres with an introduction by J.I. Segal

The First Jewish Bookstore

When in 1902 the socialists opened a store on Main Street to sell the Jewish Daily Forward they in effect created a cultural centre, the first Jewish cultural centre in Montreal. In addition to the Forward, the store sold other Yiddish newspapers from New York as well as the best Yiddish literature then available in America. Hershman's bookstore became the central gathering place of the immigrant Jewish intellectuals. They would come there not only to purchase newspapers but also to debate world affairs or party politics.

The Jewish bookstore greatly enhanced the beauty and grandeur of Main Street in the eyes of the immigrant jews. To them, Main Street between Ontario and Craig was the most attractive and interesting street in Montreal. It was also their walking street. On a Friday evening Jewish immigrants would stroll along Main Sreet. They were intrigued and impressed by the window displays in the large stores. Walking by a clothing store, they would eagerly examine the new suits in the window. For six-and-a-half, or seven dollars, one could buy a serge suit that was elegant and genuinely American. In the old country, even the wealthy did not wear such elegant suits.