Film, Lectures, and Art, Oh My

Hello Niv readers! Happy spring! There’s oodles of Jewish film, art, and educational events happening over the next few months, so let’s dive right in.


Toronto Jewish Film Foundation

Because the lineup for the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF) has yet to be released, I want to share some other spring events that they are hosting in upcoming months.

The May screening of TJFF’s Film Bites international series is a must-see. In collaboration with the Toronto Ukrainian Film Festival, Zaza Urushadze’s moving drama Anton will be screening. Set in a Ukrainian village in 1919, the film explores the friendship between Jakob, a Russian Jew, and his best friend Anton, a German Catholic. There will be a live Zoom Q & A with author Dale Eisler on adapting his novel into the film’s script. Book tickets now for one of two screenings on May 10th at the new Leah Posluns Theatre at the Prosserman JCC. 

For the 29 to 49 year-old crowd, schmooze over cocktails on May 16 at the Spadina Theatre, also known as Alliance Française. The film showings are set to be announced in late April. More info to come! 

The official festival program doesn’t drop until May 8, so keep your eyes out for my annual list of recommendations, which will be published in a few weeks! Mark your calendars for the hybrid festival on June 1–11, and get your passes in advance here.

Miles Nadal 

If you’re searching for an online community, check out some of the Miles Nadal JCC’s Facebook groups, which share topical information and facilitate conversations and community. 

These include: a new group called Access & Inclusion at the J, Families at the J, Jewish& (I’m in this one), Downtown Jewish Community of Toronto, Prenatal and Baby Wellness, and LGBTQ at the J.

Of course, the Miles Nadal JCC also has a host of events to check out, including book club gatherings on May 25 and June 22. May’s pick is Homesick by Eshkol Nevo and June’s pick is Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen.

Miles Nadal JCC will also be hosting a hybrid event in honour of their 70th anniversary on Thursday, June 1 2023 at 1 p.m. Register for free here.

Educational Events

Limmud, the annual Toronto event, is on April 30. For those of you who are big learners (me!), this program offers a little bit of everything—combating antisemitism, discussions of LGBTQ+ Jewish summer camps, Judaism and reconciliation in Canada, and so much more. Tickets range from $20 to $60. Take a look at the full program here. 

One of the Limmud sessions is about Toronto’s new state of the art Holocaust Museum, opening this June. Everything has been pretty hush hush so far, but more announcements will be made here.

Another celebration of Jewish learning is Shavuot (my personal favourite Jewish holiday), which lands on May 25. This is a great chance to take a deep dive into Jewish history and various topics—it is customary to stay up all night learning Torah on the first night of Shavuot. I probably won’t do that, but I’ll definitely partake in programming for the holiday. Stay tuned for your local JCC or institution’s programming in the coming weeks.

Lastly, Temple Sinai is hosting a four-part Tikkun Olam Initiative series, beginning with The Blanket Exercise on April 30 at 11.00 a.m. The concept of tikkun olam refers to actions that are intended to make the world a better place. This session expands upon Temple Sinai’s Narratives of Hardships: Canada’s Indigenous History Never Taught (learn more about that here). Register for this first session today.


FENTSTER fans, if you haven’t yet viewed HaMapah, the gallery’s window installation, it is open until June. Co-created by husbands Daniel Banks and Adam W. McKinney, the installation traces Jewish lineage in the United States. Learn more about the pieces here

The project will be accompanied by a film screening at the Prosserman JCC, which “follows McKinney’s return to his ancestral homelands in Benin, Poland, and across the United States.” According to Banks and McKinney, the film was created as “a way to investigate the possibility of healing transgenerational traumas and celebrating the fullness of McKinney’s mixed-heritage identity.” Tickets range from $10 to $54.

Over at the Koffler Gallery, a new exhibition opened on April 17 called The Synagogue at Babyn Yar: Turning the Nightmares of Evil into a shared Dream of Good. The exhibit features large-scale photographic murals directed by Ukrainian Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky and taken by Ukrainian photographer Maxim Dondyuk. Babyn Yar is in Kyiv, Ukraine, and is a site of importance because in 1941 it was where the first large-scale massacre of Jews took place during the Holocaust. The exhibition will run until the end of Holocaust Education Week in November.

Quick Mentions:

  • Need a Jewish 101 refresher? City Shul is hosting Basic Judaism classes for anyone who wants to get back to the basics. 
  • Have you figured out what to do for Mother’s Day? If you’re looking for ideas and they love comedy, take her to Funny Jews—a Mother’s Day Comedy Show! Darchei Noam—Toronto’s only Reconstructionist Synagogue—is hosting this event. Tickets are $28 for members and $36 for non-members.
  • Yiddish speakers, or those generally interested in the language, The Rediscovery of Yiddish Women Writers is the event for you. At long last, folks are starting to pay attention to Yiddish literature written by women. The rediscovery, translation, and publication of Yiddish women’s writing and the future of Yiddish will also be debated. The panel will take place on May 7, at 1 p.m. EST. Register for this free Zoom event here.
  • Jewish Music Week is back for its 11th year and begins on May 28 and will last until  June 4. Program guides will be out soon, so stay tuned!
  • Indulge in some family-friendly fun with two duelling pianists! The Prosserman JCC concert will feature all the well known keyboard hits from Billy Joel to Bruce Hornsby. Pianists Joel Lightman and Cody Fenwick have a repertoire of over 4,000 songs for their all-request show at this J Tunes extravaganza.

That’s all for now, but remember to stay tuned in May for when programs launch for TJFF’s festival and Jewish Music Week. And if you’re a visual learner and would prefer a calendar view, one of the best places to find events—apart from Arts & Kvetch—is UJA’s website.

Happy spring!


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