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Thursday, November 27, 2014

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Toronto filmmaker casts lens on isolated Jews of Ghana

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During a volunteer placement in Accra, Ghana in 2010, Toronto-based filmmaker Gabrielle Zilkha sought out a local Jewish community as the Jewish High Holidays neared and discovered the Sefwis.

Situated in the rural village of Sefwi Wiawso, the Sefwis are a small group of Ghanaians who have been observing the Jewish religion for more than 200 years. They observe the Sabbath, circumcise their sons, keep kosher, and recite ritual blessings in Hebrew.

 Only in the last 20 years have the Sefwis become aware that their religion was followed by millions of people around the globe known as Jews.

 Since returning from her five-month stint in Ghana, Zilkha has become determined to make a feature documentary about the isolated Jews of Ghana, many of whom have also become determined to visit Israel and establish connections with other Jewish communities around the world.

 She and her partners also want to use a variety of digital and social media to enable deeper and extended communications between the Sefwi community and people around the world. To this end, Zilkha has begun a fund-raising campaign. For details about the proposed documentary and to view a trailer about the Sefwi community, please visit www.fourcornersthefilm.com

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New in Print: Torontonian Elaine Blackstien has written Why Me?, a collection of humorous tales and memoirs that reach back five generations. The collection was published as an e-book under the pen name E. P. Snider, and is available through Amazon.

 Pearl Goodman, the daughter of Holocaust survivors who grew up in Toronto, has composed a humorous memoir, Peril: From Jackboots to Jack Benny. The book interweaves TV shows, ads, movies and other elements of the cultural landscape with her parents’ harrowing wartime experiences. The publisher is Bridgeross Communications of Dundas, Ont.

Torontonian Gerald Ziedenberg, a retired pharmacist, historian and author, has recently published Epic Trials in Jewish History, which describes 12 contentious legal cases including those involving Alfred Dreyfus, Leo Frank, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Adolf Eichmann and Jonathan Pollard. The e-book is available through Amazon.

Hiding in Plain Sight -- Eluding the Nazis in Occupied France, by Sarah Lew Miller and Joyce B. Lazarus, presents Miller’s memoir of a childhood and young adulthood; she was born in Dereczyn, Poland and moved with her family to Paris in 1937. Distributed in Canada by Scholarly Book Services; www.sbookscan.com.

 Narratives of Dissent -- War in Contemporary Israeli Arts and Culture, edited by Rachel S. Harris and Ranen Omer-Sherman, is a collection of scholarly essays dealing with music, film theatre, photography, fiction and other cultural artifacts produced in a country immersed in a perpetual culture of war. Published by Wayne State University Press.

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Arts in Brief

• Toronto Jewish Film Festival presents Hello I Must Be Going, a 2012 US-made feature film by director Todd Louiso. It is “a charming and quirky comedy” about a couple’s adult daughter who is dumped by her husband, moves back home, then falls for the teenaged son of her father’s potential business partner. $15. Cineplex Odeon Sheppard Cinemas, Sunday Jan. 13, tea at 4 p.m., film at 5. www.tjff.com, 416-324-9121.

 • “Shmooz the News” with Yiddishist Gerry Kane, who leads a discussion on current affairs from the recent elections in the United States and Quebec to the bumpy Ford mayoralty. Yiddish Vinkl at Free Times Cafe, 320 College St., Thursday Jan. 3, 12 noon. $18 includes brunch. RSVP to yiddishvinkl@yahoo.ca; www.yiddishvinkl.com

 • Singer Marion Ross was born in Eastern Europe, grew up in Israel, lived and studied in the United States, and now lives in Toronto. She performs everything from Broadway to jazz, pop, soul and Latin and ethnic music. To hear samples of her singing, please visit www.marion-ross.com.

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