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 explore new Toronto exhibits during a lockdown? I’ve got you covered. On the front of the Miles Nadal JCC building is a mural by Bareket Kewzer, called “Both&” which is part of a larger North American series called Dwelling in a Time of Plagues: Passover 2021 (possibly my favourite title of an art show ever).
The series is a “Jewish creative response to real-world plagues of our time.” The murals reinterpret the themes of Passover through a contemporary lens. You can learn more about Kewzer’s piece here as well as other murals being showcased in the U.S. These works grapple with real contemporary issues, including “the global pandemic, institutional racism, xenophobia, ageism, forced isolation, and the climate crisis.”
This piece is part of a larger project of new works by Jewish artists and creatives, which includes outdoor sculptures, murals, essays, audio pieces, videos, and online art experiences.
“Both&” will open March 26.
The Ecological Roots of Passover
Shoresh is a great organization to get involved with for those who are environmentally-minded. On March 18 at 8 pm, a webinar conversation with Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, author of a Passover Haggadah, will explore the themes of nature and the land in the Passover story to help participants develop an ‘‘ecological understanding of and connection with Jewish tradition.’’
If learning about how your Jewish identity intersects with environmental preservation interests you, sign up for Shoresh’s newsletter to find out more. There is a series on how to create just and equitable communities while living in sustainable balance with the natural world through the contemporary teachings of Shmitah, or working on various projects at Bela’s Farm, including their forest and a Bee Sanctuary.
All Shoresh events are free or Pay What You Can.
I’ve mentioned the Kultura Collective before in my Arts & Kvetch series, and they are always worth mentioning because of how many programs you can find on their website! We’ve seen fests like the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, TIFF, and Sundance go online, but don’t miss out on the theatre programming that you can also view from your home screens.
The Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company has announced that it is presenting Theatre J’s Israeli Theatre Collection. It’s a great chance to experience Theater J, the largest and most prominent Jewish theater in the U.S., now in its 30th season—learn more about how to watch the collection here. Filmed pre-COVID, these productions from Israel’s leading theater companies consist of a wide range of genres, and performances will be available to access from March 1 to June 30, 2021.
Use Kultura’s website as a resource on Toronto events and keep up to date on all things Jewish arts, culture and heritage (along with my Arts & Kvetch series, of course!)
Family-friendly activities and resources
If you’re looking for family-friendly activities with your kids, there’s a great free event on March 21 called Building The Jewish& Cookbook JUNIOR – Seder Plate 101 hosted by Jewish& in partnership with PJ Library and Camp Shomria. Register here for a refresher on what goes on a Passover Seder plate (and why), and prepare to create charoset in two ways with Chef Joel Bair—one in the Ashkenazi style and the other in the Sephardic. The ingredient list will be emailed to registrants in advance of the class.
This edition builds off of Jewish&’s cookbook series seeking to build a roster of recipes blending traditions and cultures.
And if you’ve never heard of it, check out PJ Library! They mail out more than 230,000 free books to families every month in the U.S. and Canada. Though it sounds too good to be true, Jewish families across the world can sign up through them to receive free Jewish-themed story books to their home every single month.
Based in the U.S., 18 Doors is an organization which strives to help interfaith couples and families strengthen their connection to Judaism. This month they have many events geared towards children and adults. Check out Passover, Pillows, Props and Puppets on March 16, where you can learn how to engage kids in the telling of the Passover story; Four Cups of Cabernet: Wine Appreciation and Jewish History, taking place on March 14 in the evening. You’ll be able to expand your knowledge of wine and food pairing, and the importance of wine in Jewish history and culture. Lastly, sign up for Seder Cocktails: A Treat You Can’t Passover for a virtual evening of cocktail-making for interfaith couples— those last two are probably not great for kids!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the family-friendly classic The Prince of Egypt, which could be fun for a yearly Passover viewing just like Niv’s co-founder Clarrie used to do! Make sure to check out my conversation on the film with co-founders Clarrie and Orly here.
Lastly, if you’re a Shtisel fan, surely you’ve already heard that Shtiselmania is Back?! The Toronto Jewish Film Foundation and The Montreal Israeli Film Festival invite you to their exclusive sneak peek at the long-awaited new season, so what are you waiting for? Get your tickets.
Happy Pesach and happy spring! What a year it’s been. I hope that arts and culture helped you along the way.
Header image design by Orly Zebak.
Lara Bulger has a deep-rooted commitment to the arts. With a Bachelor’s degree in Music with minors in Film and English, plus a Master’s Degree in Arts Leadership, she is passionate about the capacity of art to bring about social change. Lara is currently pursuing her PhD in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University, focusing on documentary film and its social, political and cultural impacts.