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Morris Biderman was born in 1908 in Chenchine, a small town near Kielce, Poland. He was the youngest of five sons; his father immigrated to Canada when he was four years old. Morris’s childhood memories of Poland include the Russian and German troops fighting in his town during the Great War, and the 1918 Kielce Pogrom, which prompted his family to join his father in Toronto. The family emigrated to Canada in 1920, living on Leonard Avenue, then later Bellevue Avenue, in Toronto; he attended Ryerson Public School until he dropped out at age 16. Morris then entered the trades as a needle worker and became involved in Leftist politics. He joined the Freedom Choir (Freiheit Gesang), which was held at Alhambra Hall, 450 Spadina Avenue, which housed the Labour League (a Toronto-based, Communist-led secular Jewish organization) and in 1927 he joined the Young Communist League. He worked as an under presser and was later hired as an operator for sportswear at Eaton’s, where he worked until 1937.
In 1937, Morris joined the Labour League and became manager of Der Kamf, the Communist weekly Yiddish newspaper, later renamed Der Vochenblatt. When the Communist party was briefly outlawed during the Second World War, Der Kamf was closed, and Morris returned to work in the sportswear industry. In 1942, he became president of the Labour League. In 1945, he was elected as the first national secretary to the newly founded United Jewish People’s Order. In 1955, Morris was one of eight delegates in a delegation chosen by the Canada-Soviet Friendship Society who visited the Soviet Union. Following the revelations of Khrushchev’s Secret Speech in 1956, Morris broke with the Communist Party and resigned from the UJPO at their annual conference held in December 1959 at Toronto’s Union Station. He later co-founded a new organization, the New Fraternal Jewish Association. In 2000, he wrote his memoir, A Life on the Jewish Left: An Immigrant’s Experience (Toronto: Onward Publishing).
Morris married Minnie Usprich (1909-2001) in September 1929. Morris’ older brother Dave Biderman is the father of Ruth Borchiver.
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C. Long, 2021.