Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia

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Ghitta Caiserman-Roth

b. 1923

by Michael Brown

A well-known Canadian artist whose landscapes and images of people reflect her personal experiences and feelings as well as her social concerns, Caiserman-Roth was born in Montreal, which has been her life-long home. Her parents were Sarah (Wittal) Caiserman (1893–1959), a homemaker active in community affairs who immigrated to Canada in 1918 from Romania, and Hananiah Meir Caiserman (1881–1950), one of the early Canadian Jewish community professionals who had immigrated to Montreal from Romania seven years earlier. Caiserman began his public career in Canada as a union organizer and Po’alei Zion (Labor Zionism) activist. Just after World War I, he was instrumental in the founding of the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society (JIAS), which he served for many years as honorary president, and the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), which he led as general secretary for almost two decades before his death. Caiserman represented Canada at Zionist congresses; as CJC general secretary, he led the campaign for a boycott against German products in the 1930s, and as JIAS president, the campaign for a more open Canadian immigration policy in the 1920s. Although Caiserman’s career was Jewish communal service, he had broad cultural interests and authored a book (in Yiddish) on Yiddish poets.

Following in the cultural footsteps of her father, Caiserman-Roth started painting as a child. Educated at the Parsons School of Design in New York (BA, 1961) and the École des Beaux Arts in Montreal, she also studied under realist artist Moses Soyer (1899–1974) at the American Artists’ School of the Art Student League of New York. She has taught at Concordia University, John Abbott College, the University of Quebec, and the Saidye Bronfman Centre of the YMHA in Montreal, the Nova Scotia College of Art, and Mount Allison and Mount Saint Vincent universities in Nova Scotia, the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, and the Ottawa School of Art.

Over the years, the artist has had shows of her paintings and drawings in Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, and New York, and her works have been purchased by galleries and museums across Canada. In 1967, Caiserman-Roth received the Centennial Medal in recognition of her achievements; in 1975, the Purchase Prize and Best Graphic Images Award of the Ontario Society of Artists; and in 2000, the Governor-General’s Award for Painting. In 2002, she served as vice-chair of the (federal) Commission on the Status of the Artist, and she is a council member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Together with Friedhelm Lachs, Caiserman-Roth published Creativism (1980) and with Rhoda Cohen, Surprises, Insights, Discoveries: Drawing from the Model (1993). Her own work is presented in Ghitta Caiserman-Roth: Drawings and Paintings by Friedhelm Lachs (1988).

In 1962, Caiserman-Roth married the well-known Montreal architect, Max Roth (1914–2001). They had one daughter, Kathe. The artist’s siblings are Nina Kellin and Nella Laks.

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How to cite this page

Brown, Michael. "Ghitta Caiserman-Roth." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 24, 2014) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/caiserman-roth-ghitta>.