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Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Jewishfiction.net and Nora Gold both thriving

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Two years ago, Toronto author Nora Gold took a look at what was happening in the publishing industry, how it was all going digital, and saw the proverbial writing on the wall.  

Concerned that “publishers were taking fewer and fewer books,” Gold established a website dedicated to contemporary original Jewish fiction called Jewishfiction.net, which is entirely non-commercial and subsists on donations.

“I had heard from a lot of writers that they were having trouble finding publishers, and from many publishers about how hard it is to take on ‘niche’ fiction,” Gold told me last week. “I was concerned that a lot of wonderful fiction was going to get lost along the way. That was my motive.”

Jewishfiction.net recently published its 10th issue containing 16 pieces of fiction, seven of which were written by Israeli authors in honour of the recent Israeli Independence Day. The website has published an impressive roster of writers, including Elie Wiesel, Aharon Appelfeld, A.B. Yehoshua, Chava Rosenfarb, Nessa Rapoport, Steve Stern and Morley Torgov. It has received more than 40,000 visitors to date from more than 100 countries.

Gold, who maintains the website as a “labour of love,” is herself a published author with an award-winning book of wonderful stories, Marrow and Other Stories, to her credit. She has also written a first novel, Fields of Exile, due for publication next year by Dundurn Press.

Set in a fictitious university, Fields of Exile deals with the ugly modern phenomenon of anti-Israel activism on campus, and it is Gold’s hope it will help turn the tide against the current social hysteria within the political left of delegitimizing and demonizing Israel.

“There are a lot of well-meaning people around the world who just don’t understand what anti-Israelism is. It’s not just a form of criticizing, it’s the new antisemitism.”

Gold is the moderator of Writing and Publishing Jewish Fiction in Canada: Past, Present and Future, a panel discussion also featuring Martin Levin, Cynthia Good and Cary Fagan. Part of the 2013 Toronto Jewish Literary Festival, the event takes place at Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St., Wednesday, June 5, 7:30 p.m. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

For further information, please visit jewishfiction.net or kofflerarts.org

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Yiddish Song: Israeli performer and Yiddish exponent Mendy Cahan performs For the Love of Yiddish (L’koved Yidish), a program of Yiddish song with accompaniment from Toronto pianist Nina Shapilsky. The concert is being dedicated to the late Gloria Morris, a former president of Friends of Yiddish and devoted member of Temple Sinai, two of the event’s sponsors.

Temple Sinai, 210 Wilson Ave., Sunday, May 5, 7:30 p.m. $10 in advance, $15 at the door. For tickets, visit templesinai.net/worship/music/mendy_cahan or call Marcie, 416-487-3281.

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Jewish Theatre: Teatron Toronto Jewish Theatre has announced its 11th season, beginning in November 2013. The season consists of three shows: The Chosen, a play based on the famous novel by Chaim Potok and adapted for the stage by Potok and Aaron Posner; Seven Days, a play by Ron Rutberg, about a Jewish family in Los Angeles who for some reason chose to live far from their beloved Israel, and Handle with Care, a romantic comedy by Jason Odell Williams. www.teatrontheatre.com

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Arts in Brief

• Born in South Africa, one-time journalist Kenneth Bonert reads from The Lion Seeker, the story of an irrepressible Jewish boy and his mother in 1930s South Africa. Authors at Harbourfront Centre, May 6. www.readings.org

• Toronto Jewish Film Society presents A Serious Man, the Coen Brother’s semi-autobiographical film that explores the hypocrisies of North American Jewish society and life. With guest speaker Adam Nayman. Al Green Theatre, Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Sunday, May 5, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets available shortly before each screening; $15, $10. 416-924-6211, ext. 0.

• Critic Adam Nayman opens a new series on four controversial directors with a look at the career and films of David Cronenberg. Miles Nadal JCC, May 6, 7 to 9 p.m. Other directors (to follow on weekly basis) are Roman Polansky, Paul Verhoeven and Lars von Trier. $40 for four classes, $12 drop-in, students $6. 416-924-6211, ext. 606.

• The Civic Light-Opera Company presents the Broadway hit musical Mame. Tickets $28. York Woods Library Theatre, 1785 Finch Ave. W. May 22 to June 1. 416-755-1717. musictheatretoronto.com

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At the Galleries: In his exhibition Early Sunday Morning, architectural photographer David Kaufman focuses on commercial structures in older parts of Toronto near the downtown core that are undergoing rapid redevelopment. The heart of the exhibition is a series of images documenting buildings along Queen Street. These three-storey brick structures, all constructed between 1880 and the start of World War I, are depicted in highly detailed, large-scale prints that highlight their beautiful, intricate masonry and richly coloured facades as revealed in morning sunlight. Twist Gallery, 1100 Queen St. W., May 1 to 26. Public reception, May 2, 6 to 9:30 p.m.

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