Zebulon Franks was one of the first Jewish men to settle in Vancouver and considered one of the founding members of the Orthodox community. He was known as “the first Jewish religious leader in Vancouver.” He was the founding member and president of the Sons of Israel Congregation, and led the first Jewish community services in Vancouver.
Zebulon Franks was born in November 1863 in Kirovograd (near Odessa), Ukraine. Franks’ father was the head rabbi of the synagogue. In 1881, a period of intensified religious passion, severe riots broke out in the town, marking a space of pogroms that struck the Jews of southern Russia. Zebulon, a 17 year old Talmudic scholar, Franks escaped the massacre of his family by hiding in a woodpile behind his house.
He made his way across the Austro-Hungarian border, where he joined a group of other Jewish refugees, including the Jacob Blonde family and their sixteen year old daughter Esther. They journeyed to New York and then onto Winnipeg in the spring of 1882, among the first party of Russian Jewish refugees to arrive in Western Canada. Zebulon first worked on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and married Esther Blonde. Zebulon and Esther were one of the first to arrive in Vancouver in 1887 upon the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
A brilliant, well- educated man, Franks is regarded as the first leader of the Orthodox community. The earliest Orthodox services organized by The “Agudace Achim Society” were held in his home and general store, first called “Y Franks” and later Y Franks Appliances, located on Water Street. In 1907, an Orthodox congregation, B’nai Yehuda, was officially established with Zebulon Franks as president.
Although the original house no longer stands, Zebulon and his family lived at 651 East Georgia Street (then called Harris Street) from 1903 – 1911. He had 6 children with Esther Blonde and an additional 6 children with his second wife Yetta Halperin, making him a father of 12 children total.
Zebulon had 12 children by two wives, Esther Blonde (1865 - March 8, 1897; married 1884) who were:
Bess 3/17/85 - 2/14/1956 married Abe (AC) Fleishman
Sayde 5/12/86 - 11/1983 married Isaac F. Jacobs
Rose 10/2/89 - 2/1963 married Ralph Meyers
Abe 7/91 - 1979 married Esther Saul
Myer 8/12/94 - 3/12/1948 married Florence Rostein
Leah 5/19/95 - 1953 married Harry Troupe
His second wife was Yetta Halpern (1877 - 1/7/1963) Married May 9, 1898 whose children were:
Sam 1899 - 2/1929 married Eva Carse
David 9/9/1901 - 10/12/1966 married Nona Finegold
Robert 12/28/1902 - not married
Miriam 9/25/1905 - 7/22/1958 married David Starkman
Monte 6/14/1906 - 10/19/1998 divorced
Annabelle 3/17/08 - 2/28/1981 married Joseph Ross
Zebulon's father, Abraham Labe Goodyovitch was a High Rabbi in Elizavetgrad.
A Daughter's PoemMy Father