Arts and Culture

She Smiled Again: Ruth Lowe’s Biography Hits the Right Notes

Dec. 23, 2020 By RUTH SCHWEITZER The long-awaited biography of Ruth Lowe, the Jewish songwriter from Toronto who helped launch Frank Sinatra’s career, has finally been published. I’ll Never Smile Again held the No. 1 spot on Billboard for 12 weeks in 1940 and has since become a standard that’s been covered by many jazz … Continue reading “She Smiled Again: Ruth Lowe’s Biography Hits the Right Notes”

It’s Short, but Film About Birthright Packs Meaning

Dec. 22, 2020 By SOPHIE HERSHFIELD In only 24 minutes, Israeli filmmaker Inbar Horesh delightfully unpacks a complex account of identity, language, and belonging in her short film Birth Right. This brief but evocative piece is based on the true story of its lead actress, Natasha Olshankaya, and the experience of a Russian tour group … Continue reading “It’s Short, but Film About Birthright Packs Meaning”

The Tailor Project: Our Brothers’ Keepers

By PAULA DRAPER In the spring of 1948, Max Enkin, a prominent Toronto Jewish community leader and clothing manufacturer, spoke to a gathering of his peers. He had recently returned from visiting Europe’s post-war displaced persons (DP) camps, where he led a small team of garment industry manufacturers and labour leaders on a mission. Their … Continue reading “The Tailor Project: Our Brothers’ Keepers”

On the Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note

Dec. 18, 2020 Dave Cohen (Aug. 8, 1985 – ): Country Music Keyboard Player, Songwriter, Producer By DAVID EISENSTADT “Nashville cats, play clean as country waterNashville cats, play wild as mountain dewNashville cats, been playin’ since they’s babiesNashville cats, get work before they’re two…” Defined by that Zal Yanovsky/Lovin’ Spoonful lyric, country music keyboard player … Continue reading “On the Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note”

A Family History is Told Through Possessions Left Behind

Dec. 18, 2020 By JANICE ARNOLD MONTREAL—Clearing out a home after a parent dies or moves to a care facility is bound to evoke memories and often turn up surprises. Toronto writer Sharon Kirsch’s widowed mother’s departure for a seniors’ residence and the sale of the family home set Kirsch on a years-long research project. … Continue reading “A Family History is Told Through Possessions Left Behind”

Film Review: Valley of Tears: Competent but Ho-Hum

Dec. 17, 2020 By SHLOMO SCHWARTZBERG Valley of Tears, the latest Israeli television series to arrive in Canada, comes laden with accolades for its accuracy and commentary on its expensive nature – $1 million per episode, pricey for an Israeli production. (It was sold to HBO Max in the U.S, but premieres with two back-to-back, … Continue reading “Film Review: Valley of Tears: Competent but Ho-Hum”

Book Review: The Village of Little Comely-on-the-Marsh

Dec. 16, 2020 (2020), By Alan Simons By RALPH WINTROB So here’s the conceit: A sturdy band of Welshmen, the progeny of intrepid pioneers, have established themselves in an isolated village in the south of France. They eschew any contact with the locals, and live as if they have never left Wales. What happens when … Continue reading “Book Review: The Village of Little Comely-on-the-Marsh”

Seasonal Song Covers Religious, Cultural Bases

Dec. 14, 2020 By RUTH SCHWEITZER Just in time for the festive season: The Toronto-based comedy duo of Roula Said and Maryem Tollar has released a hilarious new, all-purpose holiday tune, Arab Ladies Sing Christmas Carols Written by Jews. In part, the song is the ladies’ response to COVID, with its prohibitions against gathering and … Continue reading “Seasonal Song Covers Religious, Cultural Bases”

Shelley Posen

On the Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note

Dec. 7, 2020 Sheldon I. (Shelley) Posen (Apr. 12, 1946 – ) Folklorist, Singer, Songwriter, Museum Curator By DAVID EISENSTADT Shelley Posen is “keenly concerned about Jewish continuity and aware of the realities we face,” he told me in a recent phone conversation. Posen has written two (of many) songs that reflect his concerns: Will … Continue reading “On the Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note”

It’s More Than Just Sand: The Wilderness Focuses on the Power of the Desert in the Bible

Dec. 3, 2020 By SUSAN MINUK Stories of desolation, abandonment and contemplation of what lies beyond the known – all inspired by the outsized role deserts play in the Bible – make their world premiere this Sunday, Dec. 6 on Canada’s YES TV network. The Wilderness, a 10-part biblical docudrama series created and produced by … Continue reading “It’s More Than Just Sand: The Wilderness Focuses on the Power of the Desert in the Bible”

Erica Goodman

On the Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note

Nov. 30, 2020 Erica Goodman (Jan. 19, 1948 – ) Harpist  By DAVID EISENSTADT When I think about the harp, the first person who comes to mind is Harpo Marx. Though he said he played the instrument “the wrong way,” according to imdb.com, he taught himself well enough that when he took proper lessons from … Continue reading “On the Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note”

2020 Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature Announced

Nov. 23, 2020 By RUTH SCHWEITZER The winners of the 2020 Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature were announced at a recent live virtual ceremony presented by the Koffler Centre of the Arts. The prize in each of the four award categories was $10,000. Sarah Leavitt won in the fiction category for her graphic novel … Continue reading “2020 Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature Announced”

Ofra Harnoy

On the Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note

Nov. 17, 2020 Ofra Harnoy – (Jan. 31, 1965 – ) Cellist By DAVID EISENSTADT Listening to Ofra Harnoy, the Israeli-Canadian cellist’s new album, On The Rock, brought back a memory. In the spring of 1998, I was working on a Temple Sinai Brotherhood fundraiser with Lew Rasminsky, Allan Kalin and Frank Berns. We were fortunate to … Continue reading “On the Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note”

On The Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note

Nov. 10, 2020 Morris Eisenstadt (Nov. 6, 1926 – Nov. 21, 1991) – Saxophonist, Clarinetist, Flautist, Composer, Teacher By DAVID EISENSTADT Earlier this year, Toronto lawyer Michael Fraleigh’s generous acknowledgment of one of my columns inspired me to write about my woodwind player and composer uncle, Morris Eisenstadt. “Your tribute to Ben Steinberg (CJR, June … Continue reading “On The Record: Canadian Jewish Musicians of Note”

A Jewish Tour of Northern Ontario

Nov. 10, 2020 By ROBERT WALKER Since I started learning about geography in elementary school, I’ve been mystified by Canada’s vastness and enormity. A country of nearly 10 million square kilometers – almost 500 times the size of Israel – Canada is almost incomprehensibly large. And it wasn’t just Canada’s size that intrigued me. It … Continue reading “A Jewish Tour of Northern Ontario”

French-language Quebec Novel Wins Top J.I. Segal Award

Nov. 9, 2020 By JANICE ARNOLD MONTREAL—A French-language historical novel by a well-known Quebec author that captures the political ferment during the Depression in Montreal’s working-class Mile End district is the winner of the top prize of the Jacob Isaac Segal Awards, sponsored by the Jewish Public Library (JPL). Le Mammouth by Pierre Samson, published … Continue reading “French-language Quebec Novel Wins Top J.I. Segal Award”

Toy Designer is Changing the World Through Empathy

Nov. 5, 2020 By SUSAN MINUK Ilana Ben-Ari, inventor of the Empathy Toy, has been making waves near and far by bringing the transformative power of child’s play to thousands of schools and offices in some 50 countries. Ben-Ari’s expanding collection of toys, workshops, and training programs places crucial emphasis on toys teaching what textbooks … Continue reading “Toy Designer is Changing the World Through Empathy”

Cardiologist Follows his Heart and Becomes Composer

By JANICE ARNOLD MONTREAL—Jaap Nico Hamburger’s mother gave him two invaluable pieces of advice.  When he was young, she told him that, yes, he played the piano very well, but he must have a reliable profession. Decades later, after Hamburger had achieved international recognition as a cardiac surgeon, she said he had worked hard enough … Continue reading “Cardiologist Follows his Heart and Becomes Composer”

Hamilton Jewish Book Fair, Holocaust Education Week Combine

Oct. 30, 2020 By STEVE ARNOLD Holocaust heroes and survivors. Mossad spies. Infamous Nazis. Wealthy Jews who once controlled Shanghai. These and other inviting subjects are set to be explored at Hamilton’s Jewish Book Fair and Holocaust Education Week. Usually separate events, the celebration of Jewish books and Shoah memorial has been combined into a … Continue reading “Hamilton Jewish Book Fair, Holocaust Education Week Combine”

Book Review: Borders and Belonging (Palgrave Macmillan) By Mira Sucharov

Oct. 29, 2020 By DUSTIN ATLAS Mira Sucharov’s Borders and Belonging is an intimate memoir of formation, something of a Portrait of a Political Scientist as a Young Woman. A contemporary work, its trajectory is non-linear: hopping from year to year, we see intimate flashes of feelings, events, and relationships; there is no sense at … Continue reading “Book Review: Borders and Belonging (Palgrave Macmillan) By Mira Sucharov”