Arrive a few minutes before 2 p.m. on any given Thursday at Viva Thornhill Woods Retirement Community and odds are you’ll find a hive of activity. No, community members aren’t lining up to watch the Toronto Blue Jays game. They’re gathering together for Yiddish Café – a celebration of all things Yiddishkeit, featuring a rotation of guest speakers and musical performers.
The idea for Yiddish Café came from Viva Thornhill Woods’ community members Sarah Brickman and Henry Krausman soon after they moved in.
“I felt we needed something here to remind people of their early years,” Brickman recalls. “Most of us spoke Yiddish in our homes. My father was a Yiddishist, so I learned Yiddish when I was very young. I still read, write and speak Yiddish today. Plus, I used to perform Yiddish music at Baycrest a few times a week, and now I play here once a month and we all sing together.”
“With so many Jewish community members here, I felt it was important to have something Yiddishkeit to keep the language and culture alive,” Krausman adds.
“We typically have around 40 to 50 community members and guests attend Yiddish Café,” says Wendy Teperman, Viva Thornhill Woods’ community relations manager. “And for some performances, we’ve hosted over 70 people. Friends and family often attend, too. It really generates a buzz in the community.”
Previous performers include Arkadi Tulchinsky, Yitzhak Argaman, Isaac Muzikansky of Muzika Klez, and Klezkonnection. The late Rabbi Chezi Zionce, Cantor David Edwards, Rabbi Yechezkel Deren, Jocelyn and Jerry Cooper and Col. Meir Rottem (a Viva community member who served more than 40 years in the Israel Defence Forces) have also been featured as guest speakers.
“Our community members make suggestions for guest speakers and performers,” says Krausman. Merav Jacobson, community director at Viva Thornhill Woods, along with many of the community team members, are also actively involved in the scheduling and logistics. “Without them, we would never have such a great program.” says Brickman with a smile.
The next Yiddish Café will feature pianist, vocalist and entertainer Klara Bagley as she performs Hebrew, Yiddish and English songs on Aug. 22 at 2 p.m.
To reserve your seat, please contact Wendy at 905-417-8585 or [email protected]