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Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Tarbut Festival returns

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Rachel Feinstein

WINNIPEG — This community’s third annual Tarbut: Festival of Jewish Culture, from Nov. 17 to 25, presents an assortment of musical groups, authors and never-seen-before films.

“We are thrilled with the quality of the performers and authors we have coming in,” says Tamar Barr, the programming director for the Rady Jewish Community Centre, which organizes the event. “We had over 3,000 people come out last year, and we are expecting more this year.”

Tarbut evolved from the long-standing Jewish Book Fair at the Asper Jewish Community Campus. Two years ago, the Rady JCC, which had long been charged with organizing the weeklong Jewish Book Fair, decided to change the format of the yearly event. Authors are still featured and many books and Jewish crafts are on display, but the program has been expanded with concerts, comedy, movies and visual art.

This year’s art show, which includes the works of Shoshana Shalev-Minuk, Elena El, the late Caroline Dukes and the late Leonard Marcoe, opens on Nov. 17 and runs all week, culminating in a discussion on Nov. 25 on what constitutes Jewish art. 

Last year, Tarbut concluded with a tribute to Marcoe, who died earlier this year. Marcoe was not only an artist but also a mentor to other artists and a patron of the arts through his long-running Leonard Marcoe Studio Gallery.

This year’s Tarbut program kicks off on the Saturday evening with a performance by comedian Rachel Feinstein, a finalist on the TV show Last Comic Standing (season 7). Feinstein has had her own half-hour TV comedy special and is a headliner at comedy clubs, festivals and colleges across North America.

On Nov. 18, author David Bezmozgis will be reading from his latest book, The Free World, winner of the Amazon.com First Novel Award, the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction and a finalist for several top Canadian literary awards.

In the evening, Hava Nagila, a documentary about the origins of the popular song and its journey from its birth in eastern Europe, will be screened.

On Nov. 19, the featured performers will be the Hadar Noiberg Trio. Noiberg is an Israeli jazz flutist who gives jazz a Middle Eastern sound.

Yemen Blues plays on Nov. 20. An Israeli sextet whose mix of Arabic and Hebrew music captures the influences of Yemeni, West African and American jazz, blues and funk, Yemen Blues is currently on a North American tour with Winnipeg the only Canadian stop.

A Polish film titled Little Rose, about a woman in late 1960s Poland who is recruited by the secret police to discredit a Jewish professor during the Communist government’s campaign to silence dissent, will be screened on Nov. 21.

 “Fiddler in the Golden Land” is on the menu for Nov. 22. The program is an evening of musical entertainment and nostalgic memories of the old Jewish North End, the home of most of Winnipeg’s Jewish population until the 1950s. Sandi Krawchenko Altner will read from her novel Ravenscraig, which takes place in the old North End.

In keeping with a tradition of special tribute evenings to Jewish songwriters, Tarbut is highlighting the music of Paul Simon on Nov. 17 and 24. (Last year, the festival featured a tribute to Bob Dylan.) The musicians will be lead by local pianist, composer and producer Glen Buhr.

Tarbut ends with a “Rockin’ Chanukah Concert” featuring top Jewish children’s performer Rick Recht, performing songs from his PJ Library children’s album, Look at Me, and his recently released album, Simply Shabbat.

For more information about the festival, visit http://radyjcc.com.

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