Arts & Culture

Showering you with art in April

It’s Popcorn Time Spring is here, and with it some of my favourite Toronto film festivals. The Toronto Jewish Film Festival is in June, and Hot Docs begins at the end of April. My top Jewish film pick at the latter is the documentary Misha and the Wolves. The film tells the story of Misha…

Scrolling Through Spadina: bringing Kensington Market’s Jewish history to life

Kensington Market is one of the most culturally vibrant neighbourhoods in Toronto; one that is steeped in Jewish history. Although the market may appear small—only taking up a few blocks— it is a rich and diverse space, attracting locals and tourists alike. In May 2021, the Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) will launch Scrolling Spadina, a…

Unraveling Jewish identity and community with tattooist and artist Joey Ramona

An artist’s work doesn’t necessarily reflect their personality, but with Toronto-based tattooist and artist Joey Ramona, it does. They, like their art, are: bold, reflective, and as sure as the smooth lines they draw. Their work incorporates Judaism, including the stark designs and floral often found in Haggadahs and on Seder plates, with what can…

The unbridled joy in Rita Winkler’s world and art

Rita Winkler holds up one end of her painting, and her mother, Helen, the other. Their screen becomes almost entirely awash in green, blue, and yellow watercolours with three different socks. Each sock is outlined and highlighted with thick black lines to mark their distinct patterns. The first sock is striped, the second, sparingly cross-hatched,…

LUNAR explores and uplifts Asian-Jewish identities

Gen Slosberg was scrolling through Facebook when she found a video by Jubilee Media called, “Do All Multiracial People Think the Same?” In the video, Los Angeles-based songwriter, vocalist, and music producer, Jenni Rudolph, discussed her mixed background of being Chinese and Russian-Jewish. Coincidentally, Slosberg has the same background. The instant recognition of that specific…

Passover Traditions

Niv wanted to know what different peoples' Passover traditions are. Whether it's simply how one points to the shank bone, or what maror looks like for their household, or what Haggadah is followed, no tradition or custom is too small or too big. The series is an inviting look into personal traditions that bring meaning and…

A Passover cookie from Baghdad finds a new home in Montreal

When Passover arrives each spring, I know I’ll be busy making matzah bark and flourless chocolate cake. These staples appear on many tables throughout the holiday, and as much as I love each of these desserts, I can’t say they’re my favourite. Rather, that special place is reserved for massafan cookies, traditionally made for Passover…

Passover celebrations you can attend

Who would have thought we'd be celebrating Passover again virtually? Unfortunately, Zoom calls don't prevent you from hearing those same old dad jokes about why this night isn't different from all other nights amidst the pandemic. Let’s get on with the events and happenings in the Jewish community!   The Time of Plagues Looking to…

Golden Predictions

Welcome to Golden Predictions, a column where I—an age-old psychic—make predictions about some of our favourite starlets. I also freelance, so you can call me for your own futures, I can’t promise that they’ll be golden, not all of us can be special. Ring me at 1-800-1818-GOLDEN (rates may apply). Also, I have a late…

Schmoozy Chats: a discussion on The Prince of Egypt

Niv co-founders Orly Zebak and Clarrie Feinstein sat down with Arts & Kvetch columnist Lara Bulger to discuss the Passover classic film, The Prince of Egypt. Read their conversation as they discover new details about the Passover story, asking difficult questions like, “What makes a Jew, a Jew in biblical times?” And, “Why are the…

Entering Judaica Standard Time

We’re all familiar with the anticipatory thrill that comes with waiting for a special online purchase to arrive. Each day brings with it the hope that we’ll receive what we’ve ordered (even when the postal tracker tells us the item hasn’t even left the warehouse). So, when the promised package is delivered and the item…

Portraits of Love

Portraits of Love is a series about, well, LOVE! We sent out a call giving people the opportunity to express who or what they love. Love takes its form in many ways, and we hope you enjoy these glimpses into the loves of our contributors lives! Header image design by Orly Zebak.

Between the Suns: a conversation with Rachel Miller

Rachel Miller is an artist and is currently Professor in the Textiles Department (after previously serving as Department Head) of the Craft and Design Program at Sheridan College (ON). Her past works like Surfacing, Drift, and Passing I use natural and reusable materials to analyze the natural world, and our relationship to it. She has extended…

Getting to know myself through Spilling The Tea

When I was little, I didn’t often think about my mixed Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish family. I loved partaking in my father’s Moroccan Sephardic traditions and my mother’s German and Hungarian Ashkenazi traditions, and never reflected on my experiences as unique. But they were, and are. I realized this when I started to notice many…

Top Jewish film picks of 2021

As a programmer for the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF), I watch a lot of movies. And to be clear, a lot of not very good movies, especially early on in the screening process. But one of the joys of programming is going in with low expectations, watching a submission that I know nothing about,…

Hamantaschen Time

With Purim just around the corner, it's Hamantaschen time! Niv co-founders, Orly and Clarrie, decided to each make the iconic cookie for the first time using their respective family's recipes.  This can act as your guide to make the cookies with the recipes and the method provided below.  Roll up your sleeves, get out your…

One year later: Toronto’s independent theatre scene in the midst of the pandemic

Every sector of the economy has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. But as businesses can begin to reopen, there are still some spaces that have a precarious and uncertain future. Especially venues that require large gatherings to make a profit, such as, theatre spaces.  Toronto has a thriving independent theatre scene, that has been…

The new yentas in town

It was 2017, and Joanna Halpern-Zisman was starting to create her own matchmaking service, one that would offer a different experience than JDate or JSwipe. The site was going to be created from an algorithm made personally by Halpern-Zisman, to match those within the Jewish LGBTQ+ community. The year before, coming out as a queer…

"Valley of Tears" confronts familiar tragedies

Valley of Tears nears the end of its second episode with female soldiers in the back of a truck singing Naomi Sheir’s “The Eucalyptus Grove” as they’re driven out of the Golan Heights war zone. “The Eucalyptus Grove” gives hope in the uncertain time of war by painting a sure return to a life of…

Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah, you have no nice Sweaterkkah

Every time I look at an ugly Hanukkah sweater all I see is Christmas. If the very design of an ugly Hanukkah sweater is: failing to emulate the Ugly Christmas sweater aesthetic, how can I see anything else?  I bring out my full holiday gear for times like Thanksgiving—with a mustard, forest green, raisin red…

Arts & Kvetch’s Hanukkah Edition!

Jewish holiday music ‘Tis the season for some festive music! Lest you think that there is no such thing as “holiday music for Jews” let me introduce you to “Puppy for Hanukkah”, the latest masterpiece from Hamilton’s Tony Award winning Daveed Diggs who is Black and Jewish. When reading through the YouTube comments for the…

One menorah for each night

Everyone has their holiday traditions. Whether it’s singing certain songs, or eating specific foods, or even let’s say, collecting eclectic menorahs.  For Randi Weinstein collecting this most iconic Jewish object is exactly what she’s done for 20 years.  With 30 menorahs, the collection ranges from designs with flowers, to alligators, to shoes, to intricate metal…

Freetimes Café hits 40! Bring out the latkes

Now celebrating its 40th anniversary in downtown Toronto, Freetimes Café’s longevity is a testament to Judy Perly’s resolve. Rooted by her love of people, music, community and all things Jewish, the restaurant has become a staple in Toronto, and Jewish communities. I spoke to the proud owner over the phone as she reflected on four…

Schmoozy Chats (of topics we can’t figure out), a Niv podcast

In Niv’s first podcast, co-founders Clarrie Feinstein and Orly Zebak with Arts & Kvetch columnist Lara Bulger sit down over a zoom call to discuss: what makes a film or TV show Jewish? So many shows and films often have a Jewish character, or a Jewish writer, or sometimes a Jewish director. But does that…

Toronto Jewish bakeries & restaurants on handling the pandemic and preparing for Hanukkah

Niv spoke to a few local bakeries and restaurants, to see how they’ve handled the pandemic from the first lockdown to the second, and how they prepared for Hanukkah.  Harbord Bakery Location: 115 Harbord Street  Founded: 1945  Spoke to owner: Susan Wisniewski  Harbord Bakery / website   What has the process been like adapting to…

Getting to know the Art Gallery Girls: how friendship formed Art and Scroll Studio

If you’ve ever moved to a new city there’s one thing you always hope to do: make some friends. After Shelley Werner moved from Winnipeg to Calgary this past March, not only did she find friendship, she also found collaborators.  When Werner joined Temple B’nai Tikvah, headed by Rabbi Glickman, she became friends with his…

Reconnecting to Ashkenazi food during the pandemic: feeding people at a distance

I’ve been cooking and experimenting with Ashkenazi recipes since the COVID-19 pandemic began. But I was ignoring one of the most well-known dishes, gefilte fish. I never liked it as a kid but with all this time on my hands I was curious to know if I could prepare and season the fish to make…

Seniors in the spotlight

SilverScenes Film Festival is truly an intergenerational affair. A free film festival aimed at dismantling ageism, SilverScenes is the brainchild of 94-year-old Toronto resident Sylvia Lustgarten. I am the daughter of Judy Gladstone, who is the festival’s executive director and the sister of Sylvia’s daughter-in-law. We are three generations of women who have witnessed the…

Arts & Kvetch: educational panels here we come!

So, here we are. It’s November, we’ve been in lockdown mode for three-quarters of a year, it gets dark at like 3pm, and all we have to look forward to is the air hurting our faces. Why do we live in Toronto again? Oh, right—to be part of a fabulous Jewish community and get access…

From India to Indiana: on reviving the music of Walter Kaufmann

Google “Walter Kaufmann” and the results deal with the eponymous philosopher. Tighten the search and you will find the composer, and until very recently, only a single recording of his music—Meditation, a short work for saxophone and piano. My colleague Bret Werb, Curator of Music Collections at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, had suggested Kaufmann…

Montreal Holocaust Museum’s virtual exhibit showcases 30 survivors’ stories

There’s a new virtual photography exhibit from the Montreal Holocaust Museum, called Witnesses to History, Keepers of Memory which highlights the life stories of 30 Holocaust survivors. All of these survivors are now based in Montreal and have shared their testimonies with school groups and visitors of the museum for almost 40 years.  In this new…

Batsheva and Me

I want a Batsheva dress. Batsheva Hay’s clothes from her eponymous brand seem like garments I’ll never own; I’ve got so used to imagining them that I wonder if I’ve mythologized them. She ships globally, but that doesn’t help; it feels inaccessible and frivolous to receive this would-be package of expensive express. The clothes come…

Rediscovering my Ashkenazi heritage: pickling in a pandemic

More time has been made available to me during the pandemic, which hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing. With a lighter schedule I have finally been able to learn how to prepare time-consuming dishes central to my Ashkenazi heritage. In particular, the iconic dill pickle. This endeavour has become a way for me to reconnect…

Explore five of Toronto’s oldest synagogues

Anshei Minsk  Located in the heart of Kensington Market, this congregation is downtown Toronto’s only congregation with daily prayer services. In 1913, the congregation purchased a duplex in Kensington due to the growing Jewish population in the area at the time. Three years later they moved into their current location. According to the shul, at…

A Toronto artist invites us to bear witness

Witness, a new installation by Toronto-based photo-video-artist, Ella Cooper, is now on full display at FENTSTER, in the heart of the city’s downtown.  Typically her work uses movement and performance-based techniques to explore identity and reclaim representations of Black bodies. While this is still explored in Witness, for the first time, Cooper is the subject…

Arts & Kvetch: enjoy film and art from the comfort of your home

SPOTLIGHT ON: The Toronto Jewish Film Festival, screening online October 22 - November 1 The Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF) is one of the best attended Jewish film festivals in the world. With 85 films featured in a typical year, it is also one of the festivals showing the most features—including narrative, documentaries, shorts, and…

Jewish Magical Realism: An interview with Zvi Suchet

South African artist Zvi Suchet’s work is stirring up the world of Jewish Fine Art.   He is at the vanguard of a new genre: Jewish Magical Realism.  The beginning of Suchet’s artistic experiences started during his morning prayers as a boy. Every day he would have visions of complex scenes that came out of nowhere. …

A Franco-Israeli sculptor finally gets his last wish: showing his work to the masses

The Jardin du Fleuriste in Sèvres, just west of Paris, is part of a promenade currently being built to showcase the works of late Israeli artist Achiam. The permanent free exhibit of his sculptures will house three works: Mère à l’enfant, Femme assise, and Tendresse further realizing Achiam’s life dream of sharing his work with as many…

A downtown Toronto art gallery brings Jewish expression to the forefront

At 402 College Street in Toronto, an art gallery lies in a storefront window.    FENTSTER—which means window in Yiddish—is currently showcasing an installation by Toronto-based artist Robert Davidovitz. What Will Remain, is a stained glass sculpture paying homage to his grandfather, Motel, who repaired broken windows in post-war Vilna to support his family. This…

Arts & Kvetch: A guide for staying connected to Jewish arts and culture during the pandemic

  International events Saturday Night Seder Now, I know it’s September and we’re celebrating Rosh Hashanah, but if you missed Saturday Night Seder on YouTube, you really must watch it.  Featuring Idina Menzel, Dan Levy, Billy Porter, Darren Criss, Tan France, Rabbi Amichai Lau Lavie and many more (Jews and non-Jews alike). With  original songs…

Energizing our Environments: How Shoresh (re)introduces eco-awareness and sustainability to Toronto’s Jewish community 

Our natural and local ecosystems deserve our energy and time. We are given the strength to act from the nutrients we receive from the natural world, a blessing that is not guaranteed for future generations. At Shoresh, the Shomrei Adamah (protectors of the earth) and the Shomrei Devorim (protectors of the bees) show us how…

My journey rediscovering Ashkenazi food during the pandemic

Like many people stuck at home during the pandemic, I have turned to cooking to keep busy. While I usually like trying new recipes from all over the world, this time I tried things a little closer to home.  A few years ago my uncle created a catalogue of our favourite family recipes and everyone…

The “Gross, but Great and Powerful” Schmutz: An interview with Jess Goldman

Rain was coming down on Jess Goldman as she launched the release of her chapbook Schmutz, with a reading. Standing under a tree at the Parc Jeanne-Mance in Montreal, the pages in her hand became increasingly “soggy and sticky.” Let’s just say, the launch of Schmutz turned schmutzy. In the chapbook’s glossary, Goldman defines schmutz…

Forging new Judaic designs by repurposing the past

Frann Addison describes herself as a scavenger.  Since she took her first steps, the American-based Judaica artist has been interested in creating.  Growing up on the shores of New Jersey, the proximity to the ocean allowed Addison to scavenge for shells, beach glass, and driftwood.  “I would take [beach items] home and make collages,” she…