Meet the Jews of Cape Breton, Canada's 'Anti-Trump Island'

Google searches for“how to move to Canada”surged 350% Tuesday night after Donald Trump won seven primaries—but a Canadian radio host was way ahead of everybody else.

Way back in mid-February, stand-up comedian Andrew Evans started a website called “If Donald Trump Wins” to convince Americans to immigrate to Cape Breton Island, part of Nova Scotia that’s across the Cabot Strait from Newfoundland and next to Anne of Green Gables’s more famous Prince Edward Island. Cape Breton is a tourist destination in the summer; in the winter, temperatures rarely drop below four degrees Farenheit, although wind usually makes it feel much colder.

But to offset that maritime chill, the website offers a warm welcome to those who might flee a President Trump.

And for Jews alarmed by the emergence of Trump’s white supremacist fan base, there are some Jews already there. To be sure, fewer than 50. But that’s more than enough members of the tribe for a minyan, at least, in the summer, when the population bulges with returning snowbirds and summer vacationers.

Within days, the website had 650,000 views, with nearly a third of viewers following a link to a website with information about immigrating. At least 1,200 people have contacted the Ministry of Tourism about moving to the island, and Martin Chernin, the president of the one synagogue, has received several e-mails from curious Jewish Israeli families.

There’s a rabbi that comes into town for Bar Mitzvahs (only two more are anticipated) and funerals, and two Jewish graveyards. Chernin’s synagogue, Temple Sons of Israel in Sydney, is a “traditional, egalitarian community” that despite its small size, keeps Yiddishkeit, or a Jewish spirit, alive, according to its website. The nearest grocery store that stocks kosher food is four hours away—but if that sounds like too far of a schlep, you can always order kosher cuisine from Toronto.

“We will welcome Jewish families of any age because it will help support our community and our synagogue,” said Chernin, now in his 25th year of service (he credits a lack of competition).

But the chance to be a demographic warrior for Cape Breton Island’s dwindling Jewish community isn’t the only reason to be attracted to Jewish life in this remote outpost.

  • There hasn’t been an anti-Semitic incident on the island in over forty years, Chernin said. Given all of the rumors swirling around Donald Trump’s perusal of Hitler’s texts and his on-again, off-again relationship with notorious anti-Semites, that clean record is worth a lot.

  • If you’re the type that views the annual AIPAC Policy Conference as an event akin to the Jewish high holidays, you’ll find plenty of fellow Jews that share your fervor for strengthening Israel, Chernin said.

  • Former Birthright participants pining for their time floating in the Dead Sea will be delighted to learn that the island boasts an enormous salt lake in its center.

  • The island’s Jewish community has a rich history, documented on a website and recorded by an anthropologist. Wouldn’t it be cool for your revival of the island’s Jewish community to be archived for posterity?

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Meet the Jews of Cape Breton, Canada's 'Anti-Trump Island'

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