SCHEUER, CAMILLA (Levy), philanthropist; b. 28 Oct. 1845 in Berncastel (Bernkastel-Kues, Germany), daughter of Isaac Scheuer and Johannah — ; m. 6 Sept. 1866 Herman Levy (d. 1902) in Metz, France, and they had three sons and a daughter; d. 14 Jan. 1916 in Hamilton, Ont.
Herman Levy immigrated to Hamilton from Prussia in 1857 and, with his brother Abraham, founded Levy Brothers, which would become known throughout Canada as a pioneer in the wholesaling, importing, and manufacturing of quality jewellery. Having joined Hamilton’s fledgling Jewish community upon his arrival, he was one of the original incorporators in 1863 of the Orthodox Anshe Sholom Congregation, the city’s first organized Jewish body. It was unique among Jewish congregations in British North America, but similar to several in the United States, because at the outset it was composed primarily of German immigrants.
Camilla Levy came to Hamilton after her marriage. She was joined there by her brother, jeweller Edmund Scheuer, who immigrated in 1871 and lived with the Levys. The family became integrally involved with Anshe Sholom Congregation. In 1874, following the example of congregations of German Jews in the United States, Edmund led Anshe Sholom’s change-over to Temple Anshe Sholom, the country’s first Reform (liberal) congregation. He was its first president, Camilla’s husband was treasurer for some years, and two of the Levys’ children, Gabriel Herman and Adolph Scheuer, each served as president before her death.
The acknowledged leader of Jewish women in Hamilton, Camilla Levy was widely respected for her work on behalf of the needy, irrespective of their nationality or creed. Her executive ability would lead her to occupy high offices in such organizations as the Victorian Aid Society, the Children’s Aid Society, and the local branch of the National Council of Women of Canada.
In October 1870 the Deborah Ladies’ Aid Society, the first Jewish women’s philanthropic group in Canada, was organized under her leadership. Affiliated with the Local Council of Women, it eventually became an auxiliary of Temple Anshe Sholom. Sometime between 1876 and 1879 Camilla succeeded Mrs Abraham Simon as president. The primary purposes of the society were “to assist the poor, visit the sick and dispense general charity to those of Jewish persuasion in the community.” Most of the 25 original members were from German states and the minute-books were written in German until Camilla’s death. After 1882, however, the society’s recipients were largely Yiddish-speaking Jewish refugees from eastern Europe, who had begun to arrive in numbers as a result of pogroms in Russia. Owing to this influx, Camilla wrote in 1894, the scope of the society was enlarged and some members formed a sewing society to provide the destitute Russian immigrants in Hamilton with clothing.
Camilla Levy remained president of the society until her death on 14 Jan. 1916. She was buried in Temple Anshe Sholom Cemetery.
American Jewish Arch. (Cincinnati), Edmund Scheuer, “Reminiscences of Canadian Jewry” (1933). AO, F 775, MU 2126, 1905, no.7. HPL, Scrapbooks, Temple Anshe Sholom. Temple Anshe Sholom (Hamilton, Ont.), Deborah Ladies’ Aid Soc., minute-books. DHB, vol.2. The Jew in Canada: a complete record of Canadian Jewry from the days of the French régime to the present time, ed. A. D. Hart (Toronto and Montreal, 1926), 257 (biog. note and photo).