Vira Lozinsky and the Emil Aybinder Ensemble

Sunday May 25, 8pm
Al Green Theatre, MNJCC, 750 Spadina Ave.

$20 in advance, $25 at door (plus HST)
For tickets please click here or call Ticketwise at (416) 907-0468.

Please note that the tickets listed are for the concert PLUS the day of Yiddishtog lectures ($25+HST).
Once you choose your seats, you will have the option to remove the lectures if you prefer tickets for the concert only ($20+HST).
NOTE: advance sales will cease on May 24.

Israel’s Vira Lozinsky is one of today’s outstanding Yiddish singers. An enchanting performer in every way, Vira’s mellifluous alto voice is powerful, warm, expressive, and pure. Her unique repertoire of new compositions and traditional favourites is rendered in a variety of musical styles, from East European folk (Klezmer, Roma, Romanian, Russian) to South American Tango. Having twice performed in Toronto under the Ashkenaz Foundation banner (2007, 2008), Vira will be joined for this concert by the powerhouse ensemble of virtuoso accordionist Emil Aybinder, with whom she captured Grand Prize at the 2012 International Jewish Music Competition in Amsterdam.

Read more

Reel Ashkenaz at TJFF

Ashkenaz is pleased once again to partner with the Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF) in presenting a mini film series highlighting Yiddish cinema and Jewish musical stories. This year’s selections include captivating portraits of the late great composer Marvin Hamlisch and legendary music journalist Nat Hentoff, each of whose body of work symbolizes the central role of Jews in American popular music. With Mamele and The Pin—two Yiddish language films produced 75 years apart—we highlight the legacy and continuing relevance of the mameloshen in Jewish storytelling on film. See details below.

For tickets and information visit or call 416-324-9121.

Wednesday May 7, 3pm – Canada Square 2200 Yonge St.
Director: Dori Berinstein; 85 minutes
Over his lifetime, the composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch earned four Grammys, four Emmys, three Oscars, three Golden Globes, a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize. A musical prodigy accepted to Juilliard at age six, Hamlisch defied expectation and dedicated his talents to popular music. Hits—such as “The Way We Were” and the Broadway landmark A Chorus Line—catapulted him to stardom at an early age.  Featuring interviews which include wife Terre Blair Hamlisch, Barbra Streisand, Carly Simon, Steven Soderbergh, Quincy Jones, Christopher Walken, Sir Tim Rice as well as many, many others, this engaging documentary offers an unprecedented insider’s look at the life and career of a musical genius and genuine mensch.

Thursday May 8, 3pm Canada Square, 2200 Yonge St.
MAMELE (1938)
Dir: Joseph Green and Konrad Tom; 103 minutes
One of the most delightful Yiddish films ever made has now been newly-restored by the National Center for Jewish Film. Molly Picon (“the Queen of the Yiddish Musical”) shines as Mamele (little mother), the dutiful daughter who keeps her family intact after the death of their mother. She’s so busy cooking, cleaning, and matchmaking for her brothers and sisters that she has little time for herself, until she discovers the violinist across the courtyard. Set in Lodz, this musical comedy drama featuring Picon’s trademark song “Abi Gezunt,” embraces the diverse gamut of interwar Jewish life in Poland, with its nogoodniks and unemployed, nightclubs and gangsters, and religious Jews celebrating Succoth.

Sunday May 11, 5:30pm, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W.
THE PIN (2013)
Dir: Naomi Jaye; 85 mins
The first and only Yiddish feature ever produced in Canada, The Pin is a haunting love story about two young adults hiding out in a barn in Lithuania during the Second World War. Filmmaker Naomi Jaye layers this simple story with rich atmospheric camera work, an eye for sensual detail, and moving performances by the two leads, who were taught to speak an impeccable-sounding Yiddish. “With limited resources and the power of storytelling, [Jaye] has created a small film that feels mainstream and epic.” (The New York Times). A TJFF Special Event, which will honour the uniqueness of this film and its production.

Sunday May 11 3:30 pm Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queens Park
Dir: David L. Lewis; 87 minutes
Nat Hentoff and his passionate championing of jazz made him beloved by musicians and fans, while his outspoken civil libertarian writings didn’t always sit well with his readership. This interesting portrait of Nat Hentoff traces his successes and missteps—from growing up Jewish in Boston where he began a radio show, through his influential writings on Jazz, and ground-breaking Jazz programme on television, to his articles in the Village Voice.  Featuring an outstanding jazz score, this well-crafted documentary shows us a man who is both fascinating and frustrating – a singular figure who happily upends expectations in his pursuit of free expression, never backing away from controversy.

Israeli Jazz Showcase


with special guest

THE REX HOTEL – 194 Queen St. West
$15 at the door (no advance sales)

During February and March, in venues across the GTA, a number of Toronto’s leading cultural institutions are presenting Spotlight on Israeli Culture, a first-of-its-kind two-month showcase and celebration of contemporary music, drama, dance, art, film, video and photography, all originating in Israel.  Organized in partnership with the Canada-Israel Cultural Foundation, and with a mixture of both free and ticketed events, Spotlight on Israeli Culture gives audiences the opportunity to discover and fully experience some of the breakthrough Israeli talents making headlines around the world today.

Ashkenaz is thrilled to be part of this celebration on March 6 through the Israeli Jazz Showcase at the venerable Rex Hotel, Toronto’s longest-running jazz venues. As in so many musical styles, Israelis have been making an impact in the jazz world for decades. The Israeli Jazz Showcase will feature for the first time in Toronto the trios of guitarist Gilad Hekselman and pianist Shai Maestro, two Israeli artists who are emerging as important new voices in contemporary jazz. They will be joined by special guest, Toronto’s own David Buchbinder whose ensemble will present a unique, multi-cultural take on Israeli jazz and folk music.   Don’t miss this rare triple-bill!

Presented by:
Toronto Downtown Jazz and the Consulate General of Israel, in association with the Ashkenaz Foundation

Presented as part of the Spotlight on Israeli Culture.



About Gilad Hekselman
Gilad Hekselman has been developing a reputation as one of the most promising guitarists in New York since his arrival in 2004. In only a few years this native Israeli has shared the stage with some of the greatest artists in the New York jazz scene including Chris Potter, Mark Turner, John Scofield, Anat Cohen, Ari Hoenig, Esperanza Spalding, Sam Yahel, Jeff Ballard, Gretchen Parlato, Avishai Cohen, Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, Tigran Hamasyan, Aaron Parks and Greg Hutchinson.

He has played all the major jazz clubs in New York including the Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club and Smalls. He is constantly touring world-wide and has played most major jazz festivals including Montreux, North Sea, Montreal and San Francisco.

Gilad is the winner of the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition. He opened for guitar legend Paco de Lucia at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2006, which led to a string of performances at the IAJE Conference and at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York.

That same year Gilad released his debut album Split Life (Smalls Records) recorded with bassist Joe Martin and drummer Ari Hoenig. It received rave reviews from the press as did his second album, Words Unspoken (LateSet Records), recorded and released in 2008 with Joe Martin, drummer Marcus Gilmore and tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm.

In 2009, Gilad recorded three tracks for Walt Disney Records, one of which was included in the record Everybody Wants To Be a Cat(2011). The album features versions to Disney songs played by a top-shelf lineup of musicians including Dave Brubeck, Joshua Redman, Esperanza Spalding, Diane Reeves, Roy Hargrove, Kurt Rosenwinkel, The Bad Plus and many other jazz legends.

In the spring of 2010 Gilad recorded his third album, Hearts Wide Open, with Joe Martin on bass, Marcus Gilmore on drums and world-renowned saxophonist Mark Turner, a project that Gilad defined at the time as his “best recorded work so far”. The record received rave reviews globally and was featured in many Best-of-2011 lists such as The New York Times, Amazon and iTunes.

In April of 2013, Gilad released his fourth album, This Just In, under the JazzVillage label of Harmonia Mundi. Recorded and engineered in New York by Michael Cisneros Perez, the new album with Gilad Hekselman, Joe Martin, and Marcus Gilmore also features Mark Turner on three titles.

Born in Israel in 1983, Gilad studied classical piano from age six and began studying guitar at the age of 9. From age 12 to 14 he performed regularly with the band of a weekly children’s television show. He attended the prestigious Thelma Yellin School of Arts, graduating with excellence from the jazz department at age 18. Gilad received the America – Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship for studies abroad to attend The New School in New York, where he completed a BFA degree in performing arts in 2008.

Gilad performs on handcrafted guitars made by Victor Baker.

About Shai Maestro
Pianist Shai Maestro was born in Israel on February 5th 1987. He began playing classical piano at the age of 5. His first exposure to jazz music was at the age of 8, listening to Oscar Peterson’s “Gershwin Songbook”. He was later accepted to the Thelma – Yellin High School of Performing Arts in Givataim where he completed his studies with honors. While taking extended literature classes, Shai was one of the few students combining a major in the jazz and classical departments along with his regular studies.

While still a sophomore, he received a full tuition scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music’s 5 weeks Summer Program for two consecutive years. While on a concert tour in the US he auditioned to Berklee for the 4-year program and also received a full tuition scholarship.
Maestro studied jazz piano and RTC (Real Time Composition) with Opher Brayer for two years and classical piano with Prof. Benjamin Oren of the Music Academy in Jerusalem. In the years 2004-2010 he won scholarships from the America-Israel Cultural Fund for jazz piano. He also won the national jazz ensembles competition “Jazz Signs” twice (2002 and 2003). Shai studied Indian music and tabla playing with Sanjey Kumar Sharma.

Maestro currently resides in New York were he is gaining recognition from his peers and the media, and is performing regularly with the best jazz artists in many jazz clubs and concert halls, alongside classical recitals. Shai has performed with world known musicians such as Jimmy Green, Jorge Rossy, Myron Walden, Donny McCaslin, Matt Penman, Scott Colley, Clarence Penn, Ari Hoenig, Gilad Hekselman, Nate Smith, Harish Rhagavan, Mark Guiliana, Anthony Hart and Diego Urcola to name a few.

In 2006 Maestro joined world known bass player Avishai Cohen for touring all over the world. Playing in such venues as the Blue Note in NY, Ronnie Scott’s in England, The Olympia Hall, Salle Pleyel, and the Bataclan Theater in Paris, Vienne Jazz festival, Marciac Jazz festival, Cork Jazz Festival, Yoshi’s (San Francisco), Zaragoza JF, Vienna Concert house and many others. Several shows have been recorded to Mezzo channel and are broadcasted regularly throughout Europe.

Shai Maestro performs throughout four of Avishai Cohen’s releases:

“Gently Disturbed” (2008) is this trio’s first record. The album has received rave reviews all over the world and has been a top seller in a few countries.
“Sensitive Hours” (2008) was released in Israel in August and has been a top seller there.
“Aurora” (2009) was released under EMI Blue Note Records.
“Seven seas” (2011) was also released under EMI Blue Note Records

In May 2011 Maestro departed from Avishai Cohen’s band to pursue his way as a band leader, composer and arranger.

Shai Maestro Trio was formed in July 2010 after a session in studio in Brooklyn. The other two members of the trio, Israeli drummer Ziv Ravitz and Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder reside in NY as well. “The connection between the 3 of us was so strong that we naturally became a band. It was very obvious” Says Maestro.

Since then, the trio has been touring world wide, playing in festivals, concerts halls and jazz clubs receiving incredible response from audiences all over.

Their debut album, simply named “Shai Maestro Trio” was released under the french label Laborie and immediately found it’s place in iTunes top 5 jazz chart in France.

“This is just our beginning as a band… there is so much to do and the options are endless. I’m very curious to see where all this is going to..” Says Maestro.

About David Buchbinder
“When trumpet’s good, it’s real good, and David Buchbinder is one fine trumpet player.”(NOW Magazine). He’s also an accomplished, award-winning composer, producer and cultural inventor who brings a spirit of intensity and inquiry to everything he does, as he and his gifted co-conspirators go for the jugular. David leads numerous music groups, composes for concert, theatre, film and television, presents large-scale performance projects, and has toured extensively in North America and Europe. He has been involved in the creation and presentation of world music and jazz since 1987 and has earned a reputation as one of its compositional and instrumental leading lights, through his eponymous Jazz ensemble (just nominated for a JUNO Award and two National Jazz Awards) the FLYING BULGAR KLEZMER BAND, (three JUNO Award nominations in five recordings), his creation of SHURUM BURUM Jazz Circus and of ASHKENAZ: A Festival of New Yiddish Culture.

He is a member of the Arabic fusion ensemble, MEDINA, and has recently founded a brass band playing music of the Roma (Gypsies). In the last few years he has been co-presenting projects with his wife, dancer/musician/actor Roula Said, including IMAGINE THE SOUND of PEACE and the music/dance series FEAST of the EAST.

He is the composer/creator/producer of SHURUM BURUM Jazz Circus, a unique music-centered extravaganza for 11 musicians and 7 movement artist from the worlds of circus and modern dance, performing to sold-out houses and much excitement, at the Distillery Jazz Festival, the Festival d’Ete in Quebec City, and most recently in a self-produced, critically acclaimed run in Toronto.

David has composed the scores for six feature films, the animated short Stone of Folly (awarded the Cannes Film Festival Prix du Jury), and for theatre and modern dance. Recent and current compositional projects include the score for the Canadian feature Whole New Thing, a collaboration with playwright Jason Sherman, choreographer Allen Kaeja and Soulpepper Theatre Company, and a commission to compose a CD’s worth of music for jazz guitarist John Abercrombie and trumpeter John McNeil. He has been invited to perform his music at Dave Douglas’ Festival of New Trumpet Music at Tonic, NYC. David has received numerous grants and resident fellowships for study, composition and performance. He was nominated for the 2002 Louis Applebaum Award for Excellence in Film and Television Composition, and is the recipient of the 2003 ASIFA Animation Society Award for Excellence in Soundtrack Composition.

His performance and creative activities have been profiled extensively in all media including National Public Radio, CBC Radio and TV, CTV (Canada AM), Radio Canada, Bravo, BBC, Suddeutsche Rundfunk, The Manchester Guardian, Svenska Dagblatt, Tageszeitung, Daily Variety, the Los Angeles Times, the Forward, the Village Voice, a cover feature in Lifestyles magazine, the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, NOW Magazine, Eye Magazine, and many others.

David’s newest CD, SHURUM BURUM Jazz Circus has been receiving a stream of accolades since its release (November 2005), winning enthusiastic praise from critics, fans and leading musicians. It was picked as one of the Top 20 releases of 2005 by Jazz Report’s Bill King, prompted an excited commendation from renowned jazz composer John Zorn, and has spent seven weeks (so far) in the Top Ten on the Canadian campus radio jazz charts, peaking at #1 in both Earshot and Chart Attack.

The Ger Mandolin Orchestra

Ashkenaz, in association with the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre and the Yellow Rose Project, are please to present as part of Holocaust Education Week, the Ger Mandolin Orchestra.

The GER MANDOLIN ORCHESTRA is the brainchild of Israeli-American Avner Yonai, whose search for his family roots in Poland led him to a tattered photograph of his grandfather and two other relatives playing in a pre-WWII Jewish mandolin orchestra in the Polish town of Gora Kalwaria (Ger in Yiddish). The photograph inspired Yonai to create a contemporary version of this musical group, as a memorial project for his own family and the orchestra members, most of whom perished in the Holocaust. This all-star group of international musicians features authentic instrumentation and repertoire that re-creates what at one time was the most popular form of community music-making in Jewish life. Mandolin orchestras proliferated across the towns and shtetlakh (villages) of Jewish eastern-Europe, and flourished in the immigrant communities of North America, before losing popularity in the postwar years. The new Ger Mandolin Orchestra brings back to life this quintessential Jewish musical form, achieving a rare synergy between history and cutting-edge musical creation. The group’s repertoire includes a mix of Klezmer and Yiddish music with Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Czech and classical selections.

The Ger Mandolin Orchestra is led by renowned multi-instrumentalist Mike Marshall, a multiple Grammy nominee/winner for his work over the last 35 years with such artists as Bela Fleck, David Grisman, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and the Modern Mandolin Quartet. A master of many musical styles, Marshall is known best for his work as a bluegrass and “new acoustic music” innovator, as a significant figure in the revival of classical mandolin music, and as the leading American proponent of Brazilian choro music. Marshall is joined in the Ger Mandolin Orchestra by an all-star cast of ten mandolinists from Canada, the US, Europe and Israel, including Chris Acquavella, Tom Cohen, Tim Connell, Brian Oberlin, Dana Rath, Adam Roskiewicz, Eric Stein, Don Stiernberg, Jeff Warschauer, and Radim Zenkl.

Watch the Ger Mandolin Orchestra on YouTube:
1. AFP News: The Ger Mandolin Orchestra in Poland, September 2011
2. 13-Min Documentary about the creation of the Ger Mandolin Orchestra
3. Ger Mandolin Orchestra live: Shalom Aleichem

Thursday November 7, 7:30pm
George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts, 5040 Yonge St.
Tickets $36 + HST – on sale Monday September 16
For tickets call Ticketmaster toll-free 1-855-985-2787 or buy online  (please note Ticketmaster adds a $6.25 service charge per ticket)
To avoid service charges, purchase tickets in person at the Toronto Centre for the Arts box office, 11am-6pm Tuesday to Saturday, 12-4pm on Sundays.

“We have a lot of stone monuments, but this is a living monument…it brings something to life rather than honouring something that’s dead.”
-Prof. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Columbia University NY
Program Director, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw

Ashkenaz is pleased to partner with the Yellow Rose Project (YRP), producers of the Senior Prom, to bring Holocaust Survivors to this concert at no charge. With your help we will share this special cultural experience with those for whom it will have so much meaning.

$125 – Purchases two tickets for yourself, plus a free ticket for a Holocaust survivor.
$100 – Purchases one ticket for yourself, plus a free ticket for a Holocaust survivor.
$72 – Purchase a free ticket for a Holocaust survivor.

A charitable tax receipt will be provided for the total minus $36/per ticket for each ticket used. If you are not attending the concert, you will receive a tax receipt for the full amount of the donation.

Note: this opportunity is only available directly through the Ashkenaz office.
Contact us at 416-979-9901 or by email at for more information.

Presented in association with Neuberger HEW 2013 Holocaust Education Week and Yellow Rose Project

Media Sponsors: Classical 96FM and AM740

This event is generously sponsored by Moses, Libby and Sam Znaimer; Bonny Silver and Family; and by Helen Stollar in memory of her husband, Jack Stollar; The Gorman and Shore Families; and the Centre for Jewish Studies – University of Toronto.


Bonny Silver and Family
Moses, Libby and Sam Znaimer

First Mandolins
Harry and Sara Gorman
Helen Stollar, in memory of her husband Jack Stollar

Second Mandolins
Gail and Stanley Debow
Heather and Ron Hoffman
Warren and Debbie Kimel
Mel Stein and Family
Jack and Judy Winberg

Matthew Bernstein, Risa Prenick & Family
Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Toronto
Eleanor Dover
Cynthia MacDougall
The Reta and Max Merkur Foundation
Tom Mihalik (Tom’s Place)
Florence Minz
The Miransky Fund
Harry and Evelyn Rosen
Badar Shamim
The ShaRna Foundation
Alan and Faye Shiner
Marty and Lisa Starkman
Naman Tahrir

Tobie and Aaron Brotman
Alex and Olga Eisen
Dr. Robert Erlich
Faylaura Investments Inc.
Seymour & Rochelle Frydrych & Family
Michael Miloff
Terraplan Landscape Architechts

Elliot Berlin
Myrna Berlin
Susan Fremes
Elias Gefen
Robin Gofine
Rebecca Holzman
David Kaufman and Naomi Alboim
John Mackie
Penny and Richard Parnes
Mary & Les Richmond
Allan and Ellen Rosenbluth
Ed Segalowitz
Trademark Fire Protection
Kurt Yakov Tutter


Ashkenaz at Tastes of the Hill

Ashkenaz @ Tastes of the Hill Festival
August 25, 2013, 4-7pm – FREE
Richmond Green Park, 1300 Elgin Mills Rd. East

As Toronto’s Jewish community sprawls ever-northward into Richmond Hill and Vaughan, Ashkenaz is developing a long-term strategy to establish an ongoing presence in this dynamic region of the GTA. As the first initiative of this effort, Ashkenaz will offer an afternoon of music programming as part of Richmond Hill’s multicultural food festival, Tastes of the Hill. Now in its fourth year, this free outdoor event offers a cornucopia of culinary delights from area restaurants, along with complimentary music, dance and family programming. Drawing a multicultural audience, the event provides an ideal opportunity for Ashkenaz to bring its programming to an area of the GTA that remains underserved in the arts/culture realm. Ashkenaz is pleased to present three musical performances, providing the Richmond Hill community with a ‘taste’ of its own signature downtown festival. Featured artists include:

4pm – Jaffa Road
Toronto’s Jaffa Road is an award-winning world music group made up of some of Canada’s most exciting and innovative interpreters of inter-cultural music. The group has created a unique sonic landscape that  draws easily and organically from the worlds of sacred and secular Jewish songs, Arabic and Indian music, modern jazz, rock, and dub. In doing so the group creates a union between acoustic and electronic, secular and sacred, ancient and modern. Each of the group’s two CD releases has been nominated for a Juno award, and their song “LYG” took Grand Prize in the John Lennon Song Writing contest. The group has toured widely across Canada, including theatres, jazz and folk music festivals, and general music and arts festivals. Jaffa Road features Aviva Chernick (vocals), Aaron Lightstone (guitar, oud), Chris Gartner (bass), Sundar Viswanathan (sax, flute) and Jeff Wilson (percussion).

5pm – Yiddish Swingtet with Mitch Smolkin
The Yiddish Swingtet infuses the heartfelt emotion of Eastern European Klezmer music with the cool grooves of American swing. Klezmer clarinetist Jonno Lightstone combines forces with stride pianist Jordan Klapman and jazz guitarist Tony Quarrington to explore classic tunes from the golden age of swing, hits from the Yiddish theatre, and “heymishe” down-home klezmer music. From the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt to the Jewish jazz of Sammy Musiker, the Yiddish Swingtet takes you on a cross-cultural musical journey that you will want to take again and again. At Tastes of the Hill they will be joined by guest vocalist Mitch Smolkin, one of Canada’s most accomplished and beloved interpreters of Yiddish music.

6pm – Lemon Bucket Orkestra
From Toronto to New York, Budapest to Berlin, audiences around the world are hailing the Lemon Bucket Orkestra as folk music revolutionaries. Self-described as a “balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-party-punk” band, the group has grown since its birth three years ago from its initial quartet of buskers to a fifteen-piece guerrilla folk force with an army of grass roots followers and mainstream fans at home and abroad. Those discovering the band for the first time quickly realize that their shows are more than concerts: they’re wild, joyful experiences rarely contained by four walls; they’re celebrations of tradition and culture expressed with an explosive punk spirit; they’re ecstatic street parades that erupt from the collision of nostalgia and imagination. The group’s explosive take on Ukrainian, ex-Yugoslavian, Romani and other east European traditional styles, combined with their desire to play anywhere and everywhere (including airplanes and subway cars!) has earned them the reputation as Toronto’s liveliest and most irreverent party band.

Shye Ben Tzur


Shye Ben Tzur & Rajasthan Express
Thursday July 25, 2013, 9pm
The Mod Club Theatre, 722 College St.
$20 in advance / $25 at the door

One of the most talked-about artists at the 2012 Ashkenaz Festival, Israel’s Shye Ben Tzur returns to Toronto as part of a coast-to-coast North American summer tour. Having studied Indian classical music for over a decade, and immersed himself in Muslim Qawwali music, Shye Ben Tzur has fashioned a wholly unique fusion of Hebrew and Middle Eastern musical influences with those of the Indian sub-continent. Working with a cross-cultural ensemble of Rajasthani-Indian and Israeli musicians, his music transcends the seemingly quirky juxtapositions of devotional Qawwali music with Hebrew poetry, Indian classical vocals with spanish guitar, funky bass with pulsating tabla. This not-to-be-missed  event will be one of Toronto’s top summer’s concerts, featuring a colourful ensemble, deep grooves and soulful improvisation in an awe-inspiring show that will resonate with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Watch Shye Ben Tzur on YouTube:

Shoshan (music video)

Concert Trailer

Dawn (music video)

Facebook Event Page for Shye Ben Tzur at Mod Club

Presented in association with the Consulate General of Israel in Toronto

Community Partners:  Annex Shul, Congregation Bina, Hillel of Greater Toronto, Koffler Centre of the Arts,, Size Doesn’t Matter, Small World Music, The House, UJA’s Community Connect

Anthony Russell

Annual Summer Yiddish Concert
Featuring Anthony Russell
With special guest Kyra Folk-Farber

Wednesday June 19, 2013, 8pm
Randolph Theatre, 736 Bathurst St.
Tickets $10 in advance, $15 at the door
Call 416-915-6747 for tickets or order online at

African-American by birth and Jewish by choice, Anthony (Mordechai Tzvi) Russell has been hailed as “the new voice of Yiddish song” (Huffington Post). Trained as an operatic bass, Russell has more recently discovered in Yiddish art song an ideal canvas for the expression of his own multifaceted identity. He has deeply immersed himself in the recital repertoire of the famed Sidor Belarsky (1898-1975), one of the 20th century’s most celebrated and prolific performers of cantorial music, Chassidic nigunim, and Yiddish folk songs. Striving in his interpretations to “embody the aspirations, desires and struggles of one diaspora culture enriched with the colours and experiences of another,” Russell’s rich basso cantante evokes Paul Robeson as much as Belarsky himself. His earnest and heartfelt interpretations reveal the narrative, melodic, and cultural riches of a timeless repertoire, now given refreshing new life by an emerging talent. Returning to Toronto after his show-stopping appearance at the 2012 Ashkenaz Festival, Russell will be joined by special guest Kyra Folk-Farber, another fresh new voice in the world of contemporary Yiddish music.

Originally from Vancouver, soprano Kyra Folk-Farber ( is establishing herself as an exciting and versatile young artist, who has performed in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, in opera, oratorio, new music, and Yiddish concerts. Kyra appeared at the 2012 Ashkenaz Festival in “The Yiddish Songs of Arkady Gendler” as part of an ensemble that included Christian Dawid and Marilyn Lerner. More recently she has done guest turns with the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir, and with the ARC (Artists of the Royal Conservatory) Ensemble. Holding a doctorate in vocal performance from the Université de Montréal and a bachelor’s from the New England Conservatory in Boston. Kyra Folk-Farber received the 2011 grant from the Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation for Young Canadian Opera Singers, and the 2011 Ben Steinberg Musical Legacy Award.

Co-presented by the Committee For Yiddish of UJA Federation, and in association with Moses Znaimer’s IdeaCity Conference.


Sunday April 28 2013

A community celebration featuring an afternoon of Yiddish-language lectures, as well as musical and family programming, highlighting contemporary directions in Yiddish studies. Speakers will include Professors Rebecca Margolis, Anna Shternshis, Kalman Weiser, and Sholem Berger, MD. The day includes a special reading for kids of Dr. Seuss and Curious George in Yiddish, and a performance by the MNJCC Klezmer Music Ensemble. The day concludes with an evening CD release concert by Toronto’s Lenka Lichtenberg and her “Fray” ensemble, presenting their contemporary blend of original Yiddish song with world music influences.

• $10 for access to all lectures, payable at the door, cash only

• Kids reading and klezmer performance FREE

• Lenka Lichtenberg concert $25 / $15 for students & Seniors (see below for ticket details)

Yidishtog is presented by Ashkenaz Foundation, Miles Nadal JCC, Committee For Yiddish, Workmen’s Circle, Friends of Yiddish, Winchevsky Centre,  The Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University, and the Al and Malka Green Yiddish Studies Program at the University of Toronto and The Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto.


11:00am          Prof. Rebecca Margolis Lecture
11:30am          Dr. Seuss and Curious George in Yiddish! FREE (ages 2+)
12:15pm          Prof. Anna Shternshis Lecture
1:15pm            Lunch Break
2:30pm            Dr. Sholem Berger Lecture
3:45pm            Prof. Kalman Weiser Lecture
5:00pm            MNJCC Klezmer Ensemble performance
8:00pm            Lenka Lichtenberg CD Release Concert


11am – MNJCC room 318
Prof. Rebecca Margolis “Yidishe Kultur in Kanade: Nekhtn un Haynt”

Yiddish has flourished in Canada during the last century and continues to have a vibrant life. This talk will examine facets of Yiddish cultural life in Canada, notably education, the press and literature, theatre, and as a daily spoken language.

Rebecca Margolis grew up in Montreal, where she learned Yiddish in the JPPS Jewish day school system. She studied Yiddish at McGill and received her MA-PhD in Yiddish Studies from Columbia University. Her research centres on Yiddish culture in Canada, in particular in Montreal. Her book, Jewish Roots, Canadian Soil: Yiddish Culture in Montreal, 1905-1945, was the recipient of a Canadian Jewish Book Award as well as a J.I. Segal Prize.

11:30am – MNJCC Aerobics Studio
Dr. Seuss and Curious George…in Yiddish
(with some English, for flavor)

Read by Dr. Sholem Berger

For ages 2+ MNJCC

12:15pm – MNJCC room 318
Lecture 2 – Prof. Anna Shternshis “Soviet Yiddish Culture in the Post-Soviet Jewish Life”

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Jewish culture in the post-Soviet space began to transform. With 1.6 million Jews leaving the country and settling in Israel, United States, Canada and Germany, the Russian Jewish culture became transnational too. Accompanied with video-clips, the lecture will discuss Yiddish popular culture as it developed in post-Soviet  Moscow and other centres of Russian Jewish Diaspora.

Anna Shternshis is the Al and Malka Green Associate Professor of Yiddish and Diaspora studies and the Associated Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. She holds a D.Phil degree in Modern Languages and Literatures from the University of Oxford. Shternshis is an author of “Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923 – 1939” (Indiana University Press, 2006), and articles on Soviet and post-Soviet Jewish culture and identity. She is currently working on two book projects. One is entitled “Jewish Heart in the Soviet Body”, examining the life of the Soviet Jews born in the 1920s. The other one is devoted to the evacuation and escape of Soviet Jewish Civilians during World War II.

Lunch break

2:30pm – MNJCC room 318
Lecture 3 – Dr. Sholem Berger “After the Kids Sleep: Confessions of a Yiddish Poet”

Imagine there is a language spoken by millions of people who are largely unaware of the literature that has been written in it – and, conversely, that the few thousand cognoscenti, who know and love its poetry, rarely if ever speak the language on a daily basis. That’s the situation Yiddish poetry is in. The paradoxes and contradictions are heightened all the more by my life in Baltimore, incongruously part of a mini-community (several families) of Yiddish speakers, surrounded by English speakers and minutes away from a Jewish community which neither knows nor cares about what I write. I will talk about these paradoxes and how they underlie my poetry.

Zackary Sholem Berger is a poet, translator, and short-story writer in English and Yiddish. In the small world of Yiddish readers he is probably best known as the translator of The Cat in the Hat, Curious George, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish into Yiddish, published by he and his wife ( In 2011, his first book of Yiddish and English poetry, Not in the Same Breath/Zog Khotsh Lehavdl, was published to acclaim and even some sales. His second book is due out this year. In his parallel existence, he is an internal medicine physician and researcher, with a book coming out in July entitled Talking to Your Doctor. Sholem, his wife, and his three Yiddish-speaking kids live in Baltimore, USA.

3:45pm – MNJCC room 318
Lecture 4 – Prof. Kalman Weiser “The Post-Holocaust History of Yiddish”

One of the contemporary paradoxes of Yiddish is that now that millions of Jews no longer speak it daily, it finally enjoys the respect that it was so frequently denied when it was in its fullest bloom. Yiddish has gone from being the often disparaged language of the uneducated Jewish masses to the language primarily of Hasidim and of Jewish Studies professors – two groups who seldom talk to teach other. It is taught in universities not only in Israel and North America but in Germany, Poland, and other European countries. And it is even has official minority language status in countries such as Sweden and Moldova. How did lowly Yiddish find a home in such lofty perches?  Where is it heading? Join Kalman Weiser for an exploration of how Yiddish became ‘balebatish’ (respectable).

Kalman Weiser is the Silber Family Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at York University, where he teaches Jewish history and culture, and has recently been cross-appointed to University of Toronto to participate in its Yiddish Studies program.  A native of New York City, he completed his doctorate at Columbia University. He is the co-editor of Czernowitz at 100: the First Yiddish Language Conference in Historical Perspective (2010) and the author of Jewish People, Yiddish Nation (2011), which won a Canadian Jewish Book Award for scholarship. He is currently working on projects about Jewish naming practices in Eastern Europe and the life and career of the pioneering Yiddish scholar Max Weinreich.

5pm – MNJCC room 318
Concert by MNJCC Klezmer Ensemble

8pm – Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front Street West
Lenka Lichtenberg “Embrace” CD Release Concert

Celebrate a daring new album from Lenka Lichtenberg’s all-star world music group, Fray, where Yiddish poetry, English verse and Hebrew prayer meet Middle Eastern, Indian and Brazilian grooves with lively, stirring results. Featuring Lenka Lichtenberg, the Canadian Folk Music Awards’ 2012 Traditional Singer of the Year, with her six-piece band of the country’s top Indo-Canadian and world jazz artists including John Gzowski, Chris Gartner, Alan Hetherington, Ravi Naimpally and Ernie Tollar plus surprise guests!

Tickets: $25 | $15 for students / seniors
416-872-4255 |
Please note: service charges apply. To avoid additional fees, tickets may also be purchased at the Box Office in person, Roy Thomson Hall Box Office, 60 Simcoe Street

For details and music visit

Rubin and Caine

Saturday March 2

The Music Gallery & the Ashkenaz Foundation presents

Joel Rubin and Uri Caine 

“Klezmer’s outer limits and inner space” 

Doors 7pm | Concert 8pm

Tickets $30 regular | $25 advance | $15 Music Gallery members

Following an initial collaboration with the Music Gallery during our  Harbourfront festival last year, we are pleased to partner again on what is sure to be one of highlights of the season: klezmer legend Joel Rubin and esteemed jazz keyboardist Uri Caine bringing their album Azoy Tsu Tsveyt to life.

Joel Rubin has long been considered by many to be the leading performer of Jewish instrumental klezmer music in the world today, earning accolades from sources as diverse as klezmer giants Dave Tarras, avant garde composer John Zorn, and Nobel Laureate and poet Roald Hoffmann.

He was the founder and clarinetist of some of the most internationally respected klezmer ensembles, including the Joel Rubin Ensemble and the pioneering revival group Brave Old World. His albums are considered to be masterpieces of classical eastern European and American Jewish music. Rubin has made guest appearances with the Klezmatics, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, and Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, among others. His music can be heard in several films, including the French feature film, L’armée du crime (The Army of Crime, 2009), and the award-winning documentary portrait A Tickle in the Heart (Germany/Switz./USA, 1996), which is based on his research and screenplay.

Uri Caine has earned extensive jazz bona fides since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied composition with George Crumb. He has played with old school jazzers (Philly Joe Jones, Hank Mobley, Mickey Roker, Odean Pope) and modern explorers (Don Byron, Dave Douglas, John Zorn, Arto Lindsay) with equal verve. Caine has recorded 22 CDs as a leader.

Azoy Tsu Tsveyt brings the two together in a surprising and exciting new context. Evoking some of the spirit of Miles Davis’ proto-fusion classics like In A Silent Way, they perform a freewheeling repertoire of Old and New World nigunim, cantorial music, klezmer classics and more. Joel shines like never before in this passionate meeting of modern Jewish masters.  This is a must for all fans of improvised music and of Jewish musical eclecticism.

For tickets click HERE

More info: 416-204-1080 •