Arts & Kvetch

Arts & Kvetch is a monthly guideby Lara Bulgerthat keeps you informed on how to stay connected to arts & culture in the Jewish community. 

The ability to stay connected to the Jewish community may not seem as easy as it once was. As the COVID-19 pandemic wages on,  in-person events are more scarce than before. But no one should be worried about the future of the Jewish community—with many organizations transitioning to online platforms, their events, services, and workshops, are more accessible than ever before. Anyone from anywhere in the world can Zoom in. 

Engaging in arts and culture is an important  way we connect  and maintain a connection to diverse voices in and outside the Jewish community.  As someone who has completed two arts degrees and worked in just about every medium – predominantly film, but also music, theatre, and visual arts – the arts have been integral to   informing the way in which I see the world. 

In Canada, there is an incredible number of Jewish cultural institutions dedicated to championing the arts. 

Even if you don’t feel a connection to the Jewish community and  are simply interested in enjoying Jewish art or culture—I guarantee there is something for you.

I want to preface this by saying that Judaism looks different to everyone, as  Morton Weinfeld, McGill professor of sociology, aptly summarizes:, ‘For some … these differences are a source of weakness, or of danger. My own view is that these differences and the paradoxes that spring from them are a source of strength. This diversity is a key to Jewish success.’ Take what you want and leave the rest.

So here we go: some of my favourite Jewish cultural offerings in Toronto, on the web, and worldwide.

Note: you will need internet access for most of these activities.

Tamara Podemski’s hit show Reservation Dogs is a sign of the times

Tamara Podemski is an actress and writer hailing from Treaty 4 Territory in Saskatchewan; born to a Jewish father and Anishinaabe mother. In 2021, she won a Canadian Screen Award for her performance in the television show Coroner, and has won both a special jury award at Sundance and an Independent Spirit Award. Recently, Podemski…

The Toronto Jewish Film Festival is here!

May & June Events Before delving into the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, let’s get into some pressing May and June events. Shavuot is almost here and with it the Miles Nadal JCC’s Tikkun Leil Shavuot, an outdoor Jewish learning festival. For the first time in two years it will be held in-person on Saturday, June…

Purim and Passover, here we come!

Hi Niv readers! Some big holidays are coming up so let’s get straight to them. If you didn’t already know, Purim is from March 16 to March 17 and Passover is from April 15 to April 23, so mark your calendars!    Purim The folks at the Miles Nadal JCC have put together a comprehensive…

New Year, New Events!

Another year ends, and a new one begins—though that’s only if you’re following the Gregorian calendar. (For those of us who practice Judaism, we know that the new year began back in September!)   Holidays  January is not a major month for Jewish holidays, unless you count Tu BiShvat as a major holiday—wait, should I…

Arts & Kvetch: Late last year, early this year . . . is Hanukkah ever on time?

I expect many of you are not looking forward to the next few months as they’re likely to bring snow, cold, and darkness all around. To help cheer up any who dread winter, you’ll find some events below that’ll put a pep in your step. Before we go any further, it’s my duty to inform…

Welcome to 5782!

Quick quiz: what year is it? No, not 2021, I’m not talking about the Gregorian calendar—what kind of article do you think you’re reading? This is Niv, a Jewish publication! It’s officially been one year since Niv launched in 5781, and we’re now in the glorious year of 5782. Happy birthday Niv, and happy New…

Here’s how you can celebrate Pride Month!

Hello Niv readers and happy Pride!! By way of introduction, Pride Month always occurs during June to commemorate the Stonewall riots in New York, which took place in June 1969. Now, Pride has marches and movements all over the world with the most visible event being the parade. For obvious reasons the Pride Parade will…

Your screening guide to the Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Photo courtesy of TJFF. I’ve been teasing the film lineup for the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF) for a couple months now, and the list has finally dropped! I wrote an article for Niv back in February about my top Jewish film picks for 2021. I’m pleased to share that many of the picks I…

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…

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Header image design by Orly Zebak. Original photographs courtesy of Lara Bulger.