For 30 years until 2001, plant and herb authority Jo Ann Gardner and her husband operated a small farm on a remote peninsula of Cape Breton Island. The place had no running water, no telephone and no vehicles other than those powered by horse. “It may sound forbidding and unattractive, but to us it was a challenge,” she writes.
Besides learning how to harness a horse, fell trees with a cross-cut saw and spread manure by moonlight, Gardner became adept at writing articles and books about herbs and gardening. Her latest book, Seeds of Transcendence: Understanding the Hebrew Bible Through Plants, was published recently by Decalogue Books of Mount Vernon, New York in a full-colour illustrated edition.
Gardner, who now lives in the Adirondacks of New York state, credits her experiences on the farm for enabling her to feel so close to the Bible. “From the making of the first garden, Eden, through the hard journey of the Israelites to the Promised Land, I felt I was there, and it is this feeling of closeness to real soil, real dirt, real life that I communicate to modern readers in Seeds of Transcendence,” she explains.
Gardner’s knowledge of the Hebrew Bible seems impressive and her writing skills are admirable. No less an authority than David Novak, the J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, has commended the book as “meticulously researched” and “a great contribution to the study of the Bible today.” For more information, please visit joanngardnerbooks.com.
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Names in the News
Israeli pianist Or Re’em and Ukrainian-Jewish pianist Dmitri Lefkovich (whose mother reportedly lives in Toronto) are among the 25 competitors invited to participate in the second Toronto International Piano Competition. The competition takes place in late October. In the final round on Nov. 1, three pianists will perform concertos with maestro Kerry Stratton and the Toronto Concert Orchestra at Koerner Hall. A total of $31,000 will be given out as prizes.
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Arts in Brief
• Singer-songwriter Eve Goldberg presents Songs of the Folk Revival, inviting participants to sing along to some of our favourite folk songs from the 1960s, and learn about the history of folk music and the musicians who made it. Miles Nadal JCC, Sept. 11 and 18, 1:30 p.m. (doors open 1 p.m.) $4 per lecture at the door. 416-924-6211, ext. 155.
• Musicians Brian Katz and Jonno Lightstone perform from their repertoire of klezmer and Yiddish memories at the Friends of Yiddish annual membership breakfast. Guests $15 (may be applied to a new membership); free for paid-up members. Beth Tikvah Social Hall, 3080 Bayview Ave. (between Sheppard and Finch), Sept. 14, 10:30 a.m. RSVP by Sept. 9 to 416-736-8073 or by email to email@example.com
• The Stratford Festival, in association with Schulich Children’s Plays, is mounting a production of The Diary of Anne Frank, based on the script by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, as adapted by Wendy Kesselman. The play, as directed by Jillian Keiley, will be part of the Festival’s 2015 season, along with The Taming of the Shrew, Love’s Labour Lost, Carousel, Oedipus Rex, Pericles, The Physicists, The Alchemist and more.
• Size Doesn’t Matter in collaboration with the Consulate General of Israel presents “Directing Duos; Dynamic teams at TIFF”, a panel discussion with Shlomi Elkabetz who co-directed Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem with his sister Ronit Elkabetz, and actor Menashe Noy, as well as Sharon Maymon who co-directed The Farewell Party with Tal Granit. The panel will be moderated by Dean Movshovitz, from the Office for Cultural Affairs, North America, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The panel is the second edition of the #REELISRAEL @ TIFF series. Monday Sept. 8 from 4 to 5 p.m. with reserved seating available at 3:30 p.m. The Rex Hotel Jazz and Blues Bar, 194 Queen St. W.
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Out of Town
The Tel Aviv International Science Fiction Festival takes place at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque from Sept. 13 to 20 in conjunction with the Tel Aviv DLD Innovation Week. The festival offers a variety of Israeli and international films, talks, exhibits and performances reflecting the themes of science, imagination and future-vision events. Events also take place at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the “Habima” culture square, Rothschild Boulevard and other venues. For more information, visit utopiafest.org.il