Jewish Literary Festival and Jewish Book Awards
Once upon a time, Toronto’s two major Jewish book events, the Jewish Book Festival and the Canadian Jewish Book Awards, were held at opposite ends of the calendar. But all that changed a few years ago when the two events were wisely merged into the Toronto Jewish Literary Festival.
This season’s Festival, which occurs May 25 to June 1 at several venues around the city, offers a particularly rich roster of events; all programs are free or pay-what-you can:
Toronto-born reporter and author Matti Friedman, who has been called a “modern-day Indiana Jones,” speaks on his award-winning book The Aleppo Codex at Temple Emanu-El, 120 Old Colony Rd., May 26, 7:30 p.m.
More literary gold comes in the form of Nora Gold, author of the newly-published novel Fields of Exile, which has been described as “the first novel about anti-Israelism in the academe.” (Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw St., Thursday May 29, 7:30 p.m.)
Lethbridge professor of English Goldie Morgentaler speaks on the prominent late Canadian Yiddish writer Chava Rosenfarb, with readings by Eileen Thalenberg in Yiddish and English. (Miles Nadal JCC, May 25, 4:30 p.m.) Poet-translator Chantal Ringuet presents her recent French-language anthology of Canadian Jewish writers with readings in English, Yiddish and French. (Beth David Synagogue, June 1, 1 p.m.)
Other presenters include Montreal Judaic Studies professor and editor Ira Robinson discussing the recent essay collection Canada’s Jews: In Time, Space and Spirit (Temple Emanu-El, Wednesday May 28, 7:30 p.m.). Toronto author, publisher and genealogist Bill Gladstone (who writes this column) launches a new edition of A Basket of Apples, a collection of short stories by the late Shirley Faessler focusing on Jewish characters in Kensington Market in the 1920s and 1930s; the author’s granddaughter, playwright-actor Karen Hines, will read selections from the stories. (Beth David, June 1, 3:30 p.m.)
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Unlike the Academy Awards, the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards announces its winners weeks in advance, thereby relieving we staid Canadians of too much excitement and suspense. Still, it’s always a great thrill to see literary excellence rewarded, which is why the community comes out in droves to support this event.
This year’s fiction prize goes to Kenneth Bonert for his novel The Lion Seeker, which brings alive the world of South African Jewry in all its raw energy and ribald vernacular.
Other winners are: Ken Setterington for Branded by the Pink Triangle (Holocaust category); Frieda Forman for The Exile Book of Yiddish Women Writers (Yiddish); Josh Lambert for Unclean Lips (Jewish Thought and Culture); Anne Michaels and Bernice Eisenstein for Correspondences (Poetry); Albert Kaganovitch for The Long Life and Swift Death of the Jewish Rechitsa (Scholarship); Renee Levine Melammed for An Ode to Salonika: The Ladino Verses of Bouena Safatty (Bio/Memoir); Carol Matas for Dear Canada, Pieces of the Past (Youth); and Jeffrey Veidlinger for In the Shadow of the Shtetl (History).
The 26th annual Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards, celebrating excellence in Canadian writing on Jewish themes and subjects, will be handed out to the winning authors at a free public ceremony. Toronto Reference Library, Bram and Bluma Appel Salon, 789 Yonge St., May 27, 8 p.m.
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Historic Plaques: Heritage Toronto and the Toronto Legacy Project are unveiling a historic plaque to commemorate three women of distinction – Amelia Earhart, Emma Goldman and Joyce Wieland. University College, Room 179, 15 King’s College Circle, May 22, 11 a.m. Heritage Toronto is also unveiling a plaque in commemoration of the Jewish Old Folks Home (later Baycrest) as part of Jewish Heritage Month. Baycrest, 3560 Bathurst St., May 28, 11 a.m.
Arts in Brief
• The Lodzer Synagogue presents a screening of Nicky’s Family, about Nicholas Winton, the British man who organized the rescue of 669 Czech and Slovak children just before the outbreak of World War II. 12 Heaton St., North York, May 15, 7 p.m. The Lodzer screens The Rape of Europa, about the Nazi looting of Europe, May 22, 7 p.m.
• The Canadian-produced film Shekinah – The Intimate Life of Hasidic Women, by director Abbey Jack Neidik, with Chanie Carlebach, opens this week in Toronto. It is at the Carlton Cinema and Elgin Mills Cinema, May 16 to 22.
• Shlomo Schwartzberg continues his series on Jewish-American filmstars with a look at the works of Barbra Streisand and Richard Benjamin. Miles Nadal JCC, Tuesday May 20, 1 p.m. $12 drop-in. 416-924-6211, ext. 0.
• Jewish Music Week in Toronto presents Afternoon Tunes – Abi Gezunt, a lively performance with Yiddish entertainer Stella Walker and Cantor David Rosen, featuring musical gems from Borscht Belt humour to cantorial works. Free admission. Miles Nadal JCC, Thursday May 22, 2 to 3 p.m.
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At the Galleries: Prismatic, an exhibition of works by Leah Landau and Sandra Duba-Shubs, opens May 15, 6 p.m., with a reception at Atelier RZLBD, Bayview Village, lower level. Free admission, everyone welcome. The show continues thru May 29.
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Out of Town: The Winnipeg International Jewish Film Festival presents screenings of about a dozen films including Aftermath, Hunting Elephants, The Jewish Cardinal and Run Boy Run. Rady JCC, 123 Doncaster St., Winnipeg, May 20 to June 1. www.radyjcc.com n