Dr. Victor Goldbloom, the first Jewish minister in a Quebec government and pioneer of Jewish-Christian dialogue in Canada, died Feb. 14 after a heart attack. Screenshot via YouTube

Victor Goldbloom, Canadian pioneer for Jewish-Catholic dialogue, dies

By  Philippe Vaillancourt, Catholic News Service
  • February 19, 2016

MONTREAL - Dr. Victor Goldbloom, the first Jewish minister in a Quebec government and pioneer of Jewish-Christian dialogue in Canada, died Feb. 14 after a heart attack. He was 92.

Goldbloom was a member of the National bilateral Catholic-Jewish Dialogue, launched last fall by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus.

His contribution to the Christian-Jewish dialogue was recognized internationally. Over the years, he played a key role for the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Christian Jewish Dialogue of Montreal and was involved with the Canadian Center for Ecumenism. In 2012, the Vatican made him a knight of the Equestrian Order of St. Sylvester.

"He dedicated his life to fostering better understanding between Jews and non-Jews in Quebec and elsewhere, serving as an example to all of us. His accomplishments as a (legislator), as a community leader and in forging relationships between the Jewish community and other faith communities are without parallel," said David J. Cape, national chair for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, calling Goldbloom a "beacon."

"Victor with his sensitive soul, brilliant analytical mind and persistent optimism brought about real and lasting change in the relationships between faith communities in Canada and worldwide," added Rabbi Reuben Poupko, chair of the Canadian Rabbinical Caucus.

Montreal Archbishop Christian Lepine called Goldbloom "a man of dialogue. His encounters with other people were genuine. His very life was a call to a serene and peaceful meeting with one another."

Born in Montreal, Goldbloom studied medicine at McGill University, where he also taught pediatrics for many years. In 1966, he was elected to the National Assembly of Quebec. In 1970, he became the first Jew to become a government minister, when he was entrusted with the newly created Ministry of Environment. He retired from active politics in 1979 and became a prominent civil servant, first as president of the Quebec's Office of Public Hearings on the Environment, 1987-1990, then as Canada's commissioner of official languages, 1991-1999.

Goldbloom acted as a volunteer administrator for several cultural, social and ecumenical organizations. He was one of the founding members of the Jules and Paul-Emile Leger Foundation. Goldbloom and Cardinal Paul-Emile Leger, archbishop of Montreal from 1950 to 1968, were good friends.

His funeral was Feb. 19 at the Emanu-El-Beth Sholom Temple in Montreal.

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