Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Winter Courses at the Koffler (Visual Art, Music and Dance)

Starting in January, Koffler is offering a new session of classes for adults and kids.
New students to the Koffler will receive 15% off course fees!

The courses that are currently being offered:

Painting in Acrylics Fundamentals
Creative Studio: Open Media
Expressive Figure Painting
Ceramics (Scupture and Wheel Throwing)
Pottery for Kids (6+)
Israeli Dancing

Portrait Painting
Acrylic Painting (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced)
Sumi-E (Japanese Brushstoke Painting)
Ceramics (Scupture and Wheel Throwing)
Pastel Painting Folk Dancing

Contemporary Independent Painting
Ceramics (Scupture and Wheel Throwing)
International Dancing
Digital Photography

Experimental Life Drawing
Mixed Media Experimental Painting
Ceramics (Scupture and Wheel Throwing)

Open Studio (with and without model)

Painting and Drawing for Young Artists (8-15 years)
Family Art (all ages)
Family Pottery (all ages)
Sewing for Kids (8-15 years)
Life Drawing

Made with Nature (4-7 years)
Painting and Drawing for Young Artists (8-15 years)
Comics/Cartooning/Illustration (8-15 years)
Pottery for Kids (ages 6+)
Family Art (all ages)
Family Pottery (all ages)
Art Explorers (8-15 yrs)
Nirkoda Dancing

In addition, we have ongoing music lessons in piano, guitar, drums and percussion, violin, Suzuki violin, viola, cello, clarinet and flute.

Check out http://www.kofflerarts.org/ for a full class desciption and/or feel free to contact: Alexandra Sipos-Kocsis 416.638.1881 x.4269 or akocsis@kofflerarts.org
for more information.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Koffler confirms new downtown home!

BIG things have been happening at the Koffler lately. Our fall classes are in full swing, the Koffler Gallery is open at 80 Spadina (see previous posts here and here for details) and we are eagerly anticipating two fabulous events at the Art Gallery of Ontario in November and December (this one and this one), programmed together with the AGO alongside their amazing Chagall and the Russian avant-garde exhibition.

As if this isn’t enough, last week we announced that the Koffler is officially expanding downtown to Artscape YOUNGplace! Artscape is turning the old Shaw Street School (an already familiar building to those in the art community – Mercer Union held its 2006 Stellar Living fundraiser there) into a 75,000 sq. ft. arts and cultural centre. Located at 180 Shaw Street (just north of Queen Street West), the building is steps from Trinity-Bellwoods Park, and the galleries and restaurants of the West Queen West neighborhood and Ossington strip.

So – what’s the scoop? It means that the Koffler Centre of the Arts will be in several places all at the same time! We are truly going to be GTA-wide with our programs (name another arts org that can claim that!) The Koffler Gallery will be based out of Artscape YOUNGplace for at least 5 years while we wait for our new 40,000 sq. ft. centre to be built on Sherman Campus. The Gallery will have a gorgeous, custom designed space for its four contemporary art exhibitions a year, plus all the affiliated programs that go along with our exhibitions. Our admin offices will also based out of the Artscape building. All our classes in visual art, music, ceramics, literature, theatre and dance will continue at the Prosserman JCC at Bathurst and Sheppard. PLUS, we’ll be launching new classes and programs at the new northern Lebovic Campus. PLUS PLUS, we’ll continue to do other Koffler events and programs all over the city.

Artscape YOUNGplace (named so because of a very generous gift from the Michael Young Family Foundation – the same name behind the Young Centre for the Performing Arts in the Distillery District) will be home to a diverse mix of creators working in a variety of disciplines, as well as arts, community and social mission organizations. Joining the Koffler will be the Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Inter-Galactic Arts Co-op, Paperhouse Studio, Red Pepper Spectacle Arts, SKETCH, Small World Music Society, York Wilson Foundation for the Visual Arts, and artists Barbara Astman, Eve Egoyan, Gerard Gauci, Sybil Goldstein and Vid Ingelevics. Artscape is also moving its offices into the building on the 3rd floor.

The official groundbreaking was last week – see pics from the event here and a short video embedded below. Artscape YOUNGplace is scheduled to open in fall 2012 - the Koffler Gallery will open its inaugural exhibition in the new space in early 2013. We’ll keep you posted on all the details as we move closer to the date.

Monday, October 3, 2011

ArtSync features the Koffler Gallery's Spin Off exhibition!

ArtSync showed up at the Spin Off opening last week with a camera crew, did a little filming of the exhibition and spoke with Edmonton-based artist Gary James Joynes about his amazing sound and video installation Ouroboros, one of the highlights of the exhibition:

Check out the video here - Spin Off is at the 6:35 mark.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Spin Off opens TONIGHT!

Join us TONIGHT from 7 to 9 PM as the Koffler Gallery opens its latest off-site exhibition Spin Off: Contemporary Art Circling the Mandala – at 80 Spadina, Suite 501. It’s a multimedia exhibition where the everyday is sacred, the ancient is contemporary, and the art is meditative. Six artists of different backgrounds present a new spin on the centuries-old motif from Hindu and Buddhist tradition, the mandala. Featuring:

Aya Ben Ron (Israel):

Mircea Cantor (France/Romania):

Vandana Jain (USA):

Gary James Joynes/Clinker (Canada):

Melissa Shiff (Canada):

Jennifer Zackin (USA):


Opening Reception
Thursday, September 22, 7 – 9 PM | Curator Talk at 7:30 PM | FREE

Re-Making Mandalas: Guided tour of Spin Off and digital artmaking workshop
Sunday, September 25, 10 AM – 4 PM
$130 + materials
Toronto School of Art, 410 Adelaide St. W., 3rd floor
Registration required: tsa-art.ca

After a special guided tour of Spin Off, participate in a day-long workshop including art-making as well as conversations with local spiritual leaders. Using different media, the workshops will centre around the creation of new mandalas in an urban environment.

On the Other Side...
Live Cinema with Gary James Joynes/Clinker
Sunday, September 25, 7:30 PM
$12 at the door | FREE for Koffler Envision Members
Toronto Underground Cinema, 186 Spadina Ave.

In this multimedia performance, Joynes/Clinker mixes sound and visuals live on stage to create a multi-sensory environment. Originally commissioned by the International Leonard Cohen Festival, On the Other Side... explores Cohen’s continued romance with the light and dark inside our human experience by appropriating Cohen’s words and bass voice as a departure point into a deep listening audio-visual experience.

Full program details are here.

See you tonight!

(Images from top: AYA BEN RON, Blister, 2002; MIRCEA CANTOR, Holy Flowers XII, 2010; VANDANA JAIN, Mandala: Agilent – Cisco, 2011; GARY JAMES JOYNES/CLINKER, Ouroboros, 2011; MELISSA SHIFF, JAMS: Jewish Animated Mandala Series, 2008; JENNIFER ZACKIN, Hanaqpacha Intiq Sombran, 2004.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Fall/Winter/Spring Season Announced!

We are super excited at the Koffler this week – we’ve officially announced & launched our new season!

Our 2011-12 Program + Classes Guide is hot off the presses…. swing by and pick up a copy, or keep your eyes on your mailbox. You can also download a digital version on our website here. This is the guide to keep and refer to all year long – it comprises the full range of our off-site exhibitions, literary, music, dance and visual arts programs and classes. As always, full details on all of our classes and programs are on our website at www.kofflerarts.org.

The 2011-12 Fall/Winter Spring season is packed full of exciting programs, events and classes all over the city and at our home base on the Sherman Campus. A big change this new season is that the Toronto Jewish Book Fair – which is entering its 36th year – has been moved from its usual October time slot to June 2012 and has been renamed the 1st Annual Toronto Jewish Book Festival. The Festival, from June 4 to June 7, 2012, will now be downtown at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon (Toronto Reference Library) and will include the same great author talks and programs and hundreds of books for sale as other years. The Festival will culminate in the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards on June 7, 2012.

Other highlights this season:

Spin Off: Contemporary Art Circling the Mandala, September 22 to December 4, 2010 – A multimedia exhibition featuring six artists that meld mysticism and popular culture, offering alternative portals to escape the world of the everyday. With Aya Ben Ron (Israel), Mircea Cantor (France/Romania), Vandana Jain (USA), Gary James Joynes/Clinker (Canada), Melissa Shiff (Canada), Jennifer Zackin (USA). Koffler Gallery Off-Site at 80 Spadina Ave., Suite 501.

The Koffler @ IFOA, October 23, 2011 – one full day of author talks focused on Russian-Jewish stories presented by the Koffler at the International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront Centre. Authors include Gary Shteyngart, David Bezmozgis, Irwin Cotler, Gal Beckerman and Michal Govrin.

Yair Dalal and Frank London, March 28, 2012 – the world premiere of international music greats Yair Dalal and Frank London together, playing a one night concert featuring Middle Eastern/Eastern European music with guest musicians at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Performing Arts.

Adi Nes, April 26 to June 2, 2012 – the first major Canadian survey of Adi Nes, the acclaimed (and often controversial) Israeli photographer who interprets Biblical, mythological and literary subjects while exploring notions of masculinity, sexual and cultural identity.

Plus, we’ve partnered with the Art Gallery of Ontario for their major fall exhibition on Chagall and the Russian avant-garde. Past Present, on December 14, is an evening of music, dance, performance, spoken word and more with Toronto’s brightest avant-garde artists; and the Koffler Chamber Orchestra opens its season on November 20 with Chagall’s Musical World in Walker Court at the AGO.

Hope to see you out at Koffler events this new season!

[Images from top: Gary James Joynes/Clinker, Ouroboros 4.06 kHz, 2011; Gary Shteyngart; Yair Dalal and Frank London; Adi Nes, Untitled (soldiers in water), 1999. Courtesy of Jack Shainman Gallery; Adi Nes, The Last Supper.]

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer vacation!

The kofflerblog will be taking a much needed summer vacation - we will not be posting regularly in July and August (but might sneak one in from time to time). We'll be back this fall when we kick off our new season with regular posts, features, insider info on our programs, rants, praises, pics, blurbs, recommendations, community events and special offers for kofflerblog followers!

Have a wonderful summer!!
The Koffler bloggers 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Canadian Jewish Book Awards 2011

The 2011 Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards ceremony took place last Monday at the Toronto Reference Library. It was an inspiring evening that took place in a great venue. All of the award winners were present to receive their awards and speak a few words, and the evening was hosted by the New York Times bestselling author, Michael Wex.

My problem is that after hearing about all the books, I want to read them. I already had a never ending list of books to read and, inevitably, the list has grown to never ending + 6. Whether you'll travelling, spending time on the beach, or just relaxing on the patio this summer, Far to Go, The Jew Is Not My Enemy, An Italian Renaissance: Choosing Life in Canada, Mordecai: The Life and Times, The Defining Decade: Identity, Politics, and the Canadian Jewish Community in the 1960s, and The Cry of the Giraffe are all highly recommended for summer reading.

Michael Wex - emcee for the evening.

Tarek Fatah receives his award for The Jew is Not My Enemy.

Dorothy Shoichet presents the award to Charles Foran for Mordecai: The Life and Times.

Alison Pick and Harold Troper sign copies of their books Far to Go and The Defining Decade.





For more photos of the event, check out our flickr photostream.

Casandra Campbell

Photos by Nick Kozak

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jewish Music Week comes to Toronto

A first for Toronto, Jewish Music Week is something to get excited about. This week-long festival is an impressive feat made possible by the collaboration of dozens of Jewish organizations across Toronto. The festival has been on since Sunday and will continue until this Sunday, May 29. There are several events every day except for Shabbat, and few of them include Klezmer - a testament to the diversity of Jewish music!

The festival got off to a fun start Sunday afternoon at the Jays game. Some members of the Cantors Assembly sang beautiful, harmonized versions of the Canadian and American national anthems before the game. (In case you were wondering, the Jays lost 3-2).

Following the game, the cantors and others headed over David Pescaut Square to celebate Lag B'omer with performances by the Associated Hebrew Schools Choir, and a Jewish-Latin band. It was a beautiful day to be at an outdoor concert and the delightful Jewish-Latin beats had people dancing.

There are still dozens more events to check out but these are a few that stand out.

What: Music for a Jewish Gospel Service - with the one and only Mike Stein
When: 10:45 AM
  • Not the first time Jewish gospel has made an appearance in Toronto!

What: Gala Evening Concert: Halleluyah! Greatist Hits of Israel's Song Festivals
When: 7:30 PM


What: Jewish Classical Music with "String Theory"
When: 3 PM
  • String Theory is Toronto's latest professional string ensemble!
What: A Movie and a Schmooze - "100 Voices" Film followed by Bantor with the Cantors
When: 7:30 PM
  • Admission is exclusive to ticket holders of the Gala Evening Concert on Wednesday so plan ahead.

What: Lunch Time Music - Klezkonnection
Where: Ben Sadowski Auditorium, Mount Sinai Hospital
When: 12 PM
  • Klezkonnection is a community klezmer orchestra. You might have seen them wowing the audience at the 2010 Ashkenaz Festival.!

Shabbat Bonus: There will be 4 unique musical ways to usher in Shabbat on Friday night. Check the schedule to find the one that's right for you.

What: Community Melaveh Malka
When: 9:45 PM - after Shabbat

What: Jewish Big Band featuring Bob DeAngelis and his Champagne Symphony Big Bandk
When: 7 PM
  • The official closing party of the Festival!

Casandra Campbell

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tarek Fatah & the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards

It’s that time of year again: warmer weather, leaves on trees, gardens growing and… the very best in Canadian writing on Jewish themes and subjects! The 23rd annual Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards returns on May 30 at 8 PM – this year at the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon at Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street. The ceremony is FREE and will be followed by a book signing with ALL the winning authors – please join us and bring your friends!

Each year, the Jury decides on the number and type of awards depending on the submissions and their eligibility. This year, six awards will be presented for books published between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010.

Tarek Fatah’s critically acclaimed The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism has won in the Politics and History category. Fatah’s second book, it debunks the anti-Jewish writings of Islamic literature and argues that hating Jews is against the essence of the Islamic spirit. The Jury commended Fatah on his courage to write the book, and his “diligent scholarly and journalistic research examining the historical, political and theological ideas. In the end the book is a personal history of a journey towards tolerance and reconciliation.” Fatah also spoke on the book to a full house of over 500 people at the Toronto Jewish Book Fair back in October 2010 (see some pics here on our Flickr page).

Fatah (pictured above) will be there on Monday to accept his award with family and friends. It will be his first public appearance in almost 4 months – he has been courageously battling cancer and undergoing treatment since February. Fatah told us he is looking forward to putting on shirt and tie for the Awards ceremony – that it’s “literally the first day of the next part of my life.” He also told us that copies of The Jew is Not Enemy have been smuggled into Pakistan and that people have been asking for the Arabic-language version of the book.

Far to Go by award winning Toronto-based author Alison Pick (above) – an epic historical novel tracing one family’s journey from Czechoslovakia to Canada during the Second World War – has won in the Fiction category. The book has been praised across the country and beyond and was called “one of the best books of the year” by CBC Radio’s Shelagh Rogers (read an interview with Alison in The Forward here). 

Mordecai: The Life and Times, Charles Foran’s (above) definitive, detailed, intimate portrait of legendary Canadian author Mordecai Richler, has won in the Biography & Memoir category.

The 2011 winners are:

Alison Pick, Far to Go
Published by House of Anansi Press Inc.

Tarek Fatah, The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism
Published by McClelland & Stewart

Robert Eli Rubinstein, An Italian Renaissance: Choosing Life In Canada
Published by Urim Publications

Charles Foran, Mordecai: The Life and Times
Published by Random House Canada

Harold Troper, The Defining Decade: Identity, Politics, and the Canadian Jewish Community in the 1960s
Published by University of Toronto Press

Judie Oron, Cry of the Giraffe
Published by Annick Press

See you on Monday!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CONTACT Festival on a rainy day!

So… it’s been a cold, soggy spring. If you’re feeling a bit down due to the Vancouver-like rain and the lack of Vitamin D (I know I am), great art is always a sure bet to drive the grey-weather blahs away. The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival – the world’s largest photography festival – continues all around the GTA until May 31. There are SO many great installations to check out, both inside and out, so rain or shine you’ve got no excuse not to check out the best photography the world has to offer in our own backyard.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Ed Burtynsky: Oil at the Institute for Contemporary Culture (ICC) at the ROM – features over 50 large-format photographs by the Canadian superstar artist. Images of oil extraction and refinement, its architecture and associated environmental destruction are simultaneously gorgeous and disturbing – Burtynsky captures the apocalyptic beauty of humanity’s industrial influence on the landscape.

Fred Herzog: Vancouver at MOCCA. I can’t get enough of Herzog’s gorgeous, colourful, sometimes bleak but incredibly human photos of Vancouver and its downtown (particularly the downtown eastside and Main Street areas) taken in the 1950’s and 60’s. He really captures Vancouver at a turning point in its cultural transformation – if you’ve spent time in Vancouver you realize how he’s captured the essence of the city: the colour, the grime, the streetscapes, the neon, the light (when the sun shines in Vancouver the light is like nowhere else), and the working class people who lived on its urban streets in the post-war period.

Also at MOCCA – Dynamic Landscape, a group show featuring a jam-packed gallery of stunning photographs by Olga Chagaoutdinova, Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Viviane Sassen, Dayanita Singh. This year, the large outdoor wall work that MOCCA commissions in its courtyard for CONTACT is What Isn’t There by Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzy.

Suzy Lake: Political Poetics at the U of T Arts Centre features recent time-based work by the seminal Canadian artist, who has made an impressive career out of her conceptual film, video, performance and photography works focused on the body and identity (Suzy was also one of our T-shirt models at the Koffler Gallery’s MIXEDFIT exhibition last fall).

Men in the Cities by American artist Robert Longo is a great outdoor installation at Metro Hall probably best viewed while on the King streetcar overcrowded with office workers… huge format photos of office workers jumping, dancing, posing, being generally un-office-worker-like.

And of course, there is the Koffler Gallery’s very own Share the Moment at the Sheppard Plaza – where artist Stephen Cruise has turned the old Kodak Fotomat into a tree-of-life with images collected from the community screened on the windows. Check out images from the opening on the Koffler's Flickr site.

There are literally hundreds of other CONTACT exhibitions and associated shows all over the city – check out their website and beat the rainy day blues with great art!

(Images from top: Edward Burtynsky, SOCAR Oil Fields #9, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006, photo © Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Nicholas Metivier, Toronto; Fred Herzog, Man With Bandage, 1968, Courtesy of Equinox Gallery, Vancouver and Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa; Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Lemonade Igloo, 2007, Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery, London; Suzy Lake, Extended Breathing in Dappled Light, Performance/ photography, 2009, Courtesy of Paul Petro Contemporary Art; Robert Longo, Untitled (06), 2005, Courtesy of the artist and Adamson Gallery, Washington, DC; Stephen Cruise: Share the Moment, 2010.)      

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The Koffler has been teaching children and adults dance, music, painting, drawing, ceramics and more for 35 years. Our instructors are artists-in-residence, well respected across the city in their practices. Our students are artists, who enjoy the camaraderie of like-minds and other creative souls. Centrally located in the Prosserman JCC at Bathurst and Sheppard, our facility offers painting and ceramics studios; music rooms for individual and group ensembles; and state-of-the-art wooden sprung floors for dance.

The Koffler is looking for dedicated and experienced instructors to teach music (popular, classical and world), dance (folk and world) and visual art (contemporary and classical) courses in our 2011-2012 season.

If interested, please e-mail, mail or fax a resume and cover letter to:

Alexandra Sipos-Kocsis
Education and Student Services
Koffler Centre of the Arts
4588 Bathurst Street | Toronto | Ontario | M2R 1W6 | t 416.638.1881 x4269 | f 416.849.3136 | akocsis@kofflerarts.org

Monday, May 9, 2011

Share the Moment

The Koffler Gallery just opened its latest off-site exhibition!

Stephen Cruise: Share the Moment
May 8 to August 28
Off-Site at the Sheppard Plaza
4400 Bathurst Street (NW corner of Sheppard)

View pics from the opening on our Flickr page here.

Share the Moment explores the North York landscape at a specific moment in the past to re-articulate its significance in the present. Toronto-based artist Stephen Cruise instills new life into the forgotten Kodak Fotomat: a drive-through photo-processing booth. By transforming the former Fotomat in the parking lot of the Sheppard Plaza, Cruise delves into a nostalgic era when film-based processing and car-centric convenience were novel. He revives this obsolete structure with photographs collected from the local community. These images are screened onto the windows of the booth in a continuous slideshow, illustrating neighbourhood life during the 1970s. By covering the kiosk with a photomontage that reproduces the image of a tree, Cruise invests the location with symbolism, positioning it as a tree of life that connects and preserves memories.

With its exterior refurbished to mimic bark and foliage, the Fotomat stands out against the landscape as a reminder of the impact that consumerism has had on nature. The simulated tree “disguise” uses the built environment to metaphorically reverse the obliteration of the natural landscape. The snapshots screened on the kiosk’s windows reconstruct a fragment in the history of the local community.

Share the Moment is a Featured Exhibition of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Exhibition is open until August 28 - daily, 24 hours/day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011



To make tonight's AN EVENING WITH KINKY FRIEDMAN accessible to everyone in the community who might wish to attend, we are making a limited number of special $50 rush tickets available for Kinky's performance and after-party!

Call 416.638.1881 x4269 to reserve your discounted rush tickets, on sale now until Wednesday, May 4 at Noon. A few rush tickets will also be available at the door, Will Call opens at 6 PM on May 4 at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kinky Friedman @KofflerArts

“I’ll be moving in the next few years to an oceanfront Florida retirement community. I sure don’t want to, but I’m Jewish, and it’s the law.” - Kinky Friedman

I could go on, and frankly, I don’t know where he gets his energy! Rather than read about Kinky Friedman, the best thing to do is watch and listen.

Richard Friedman - aka Kinky Friedman - is known for being a funny guy, but comedy is just the way he communicates. If you want to know what he really does, you’re better off asking what he doesn’t do.

Friedman’s a musician who has worked with Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, he has twice run for Governor of Texas, he has a summer camp called Echo Hill Ranch, he founded Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch, he has served in the peace corps, earned a bachelor of arts - majoring in psychology - and he has even played chess against Samuel Reshevsky. He has written detective novels and a column for the magazine Texas Monthly, and even done some acting. Oh, and Kinky Friedman sells cigars.

Does the word politically incorrect come to mind? Yup, that seems to be what Kinky Friedman does best - in the best way possible! He'll be making a stop at the Koffler on Wednesday as part of his Springtime For Kinky tour and he won't be holding back. Join us for a hilarious evening of entertainment in Kinky Friedman's only tour date in Canada.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Smokin' Hot Reception 6:30pm | Performance 8pm
St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street East
Tickets: $100 or $250 | 416.638.1881 x4269 | akocsis@kofflerarts.org

Check out the Facebook event for more details and follow us on Twitter.

Casandra Campbell

Monday, April 11, 2011

Kosher Gospel

What exactly is kosher gospel? Can gospel be kosher? Joshua Nelson, a Black Jew living in New Jersey, sure thinks so--he basically created the genre.

Nelson attended a Black Hebrew synagogue growing up and, at the age of eight, he discovered Mahalia Jackson and the style of music known as gospel. He fell in love with the music and Nelson later became well-known as a gospel singer. At the same time, Nelson continued studying Judaism and also spent some time on a kibbutz in Israel. He came to believe that Judaism has often flourished while embracing the cultural context it's grown in and decided to marry these two parts of his heritage--soul music, and Judaism.

Joshua Nelson and the Kosher Gospel Singers

As a kosher gospel singer, Nelson has performed all over with the world, recently at Beth Shalom Synagogue here in Toronto. The concert was part of a tribute to their chazzan, Cantor Moses, for his 10th anniversary with the synagogue. Nelson had a full audience as he belted out Hine Ma Tov to the tune of The Saints Go Marching In, (and on one occasion in the voice of Louis Armstrong), and Siman Tov u’Mazel Tov with a passion you’ve never heard before. His performance brought so much energy to the room, that in addition to clapping along--on the correct beats 2 and 4, I might add--people were dancing the horah around the room.

Joshua Nelson singing with Cantor Ben Meisner from Holy Blossom

Nelson has also taught Hebrew School for 15 years. I have to say I believed him when he said his students never fall asleep in class!

Casandra Campbell
(Photos courtesy of Henry Campbell)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Poetry Month at the Forward

National Poetry Month kicks off in Canada and the States today, and New York's Jewish Daily Forward is providing a great way to celebrate. Each weekday in April, the Forward will share new poetry and commentary, and give readers a little something to mull over on the commute to work. In today’s piece, Jew On Bridge, C.K. Williams takes a good, hard look at what Judaism means to him.

The Forward promises a diverse selection of poetry, and whether you like every poem or not, each is sure to give you something to think about. All works will be posted on the Forward’s blog, The Arty Semite, so be sure to bookmark it like we have!

Casandra Campbell

Friday, March 25, 2011

I can never find a ripe avocado.

I can't find a cute, single, straight Jewish boy to save my life!

Why can I never find the matching sock?

Winter SUCKS!!!!

Alright, so I can find ripe avocados (my corner store grocer always has a stash at the front), I’m already in a relationship with a cute, (not single), straight, Jewish boy, and I try and buy socks that all look the same so I don’t have to worry about matching them, but I definitely agree that winter sucks!

Though I could come up with a slew of my own, these aren’t my complaints. They are the complaints of over 1000 Torontonians who submitted their grievances to the Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage for use by Toronto’s first Complaints Choir. The company, which started in Europe, has found a brilliant way to make complaining a whole lotta fun.

After Toronto’s complaints were all gathered up, Toronto’s resident composer and lyricist, Bryce Kulak set the best grumbles to music. The volunteer choir has learned the new music and are now ready to share it with Toronto. Their first gig was Tuesday, (click for a photo), and there will still be one more chance to hear Toronto’s gripes this week.

Sat, March 26, 3:30pm - Harbourfront
Admission is free!

For a preview of Toronto’s newest composition, click here.

Casandra Campbell

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ariel Schrag performs at the Gladstone Hotel!

Come on down to the Gladstone Hotel this Sunday, March 27 at 2 PM - Graphic Details artist/writer Ariel Schrag will be perform her comics about growing up, crushes, band obsessions, new friendships, coming out as bi, coming out as gay, falling in love, her parents’ divorce, and the personal and social complications of writing about life while living it.

Check out excerpts from her book Potential on You Tube:

Potential Episode 1
Potential Episode 2
Potential Episode 3
Potential Episode 4

See you Sunday!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring Courses at the Koffler

As a time of renewal and rebirth, Spring is an excellent season to start new creative projects.

Starting the first week of April, Koffler is offering a new session of visual art courses for children and adults.

New students to the Koffler will receive 10% off course registration fees!

The courses that are currently being offered:

Painting in Acrylics Fundamentals
Expressive Figure Painting and Independent Project
Contemporary Watercolour
Painting/Drawing for Beginners

Figure Painting
Acrylic Painting
Digital Photography
Writing the Short Story

Painting for Young Artists

Life Drawing
Mixed Media Experimental Painting - Beginner and Intermediate
Pottery for Kids

Imagination if Action (4-8yrs)
Family Pottery (all ages)
Art Explorers (8-13 yrs)
Sunday Fun with Clay (5-15yrs)

In addition, we have ongoing music lessons in piano, guitar, drums, violin, Suzuki violin, viola, cello, clarinet and flute.

Feel free to contact: Alexandra 416.638.1881 x.4269 or akocsis@kofflerarts.org for more information.

Alexandra Sipos-Kocsis

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What to do in Toronto this weekend

There are two exciting events happening in Toronto this weekend, and fortunately, they don’t conflict!

The first event is the Yemen Blues North American debut Tour on Saturday Night - presented by the Ashkenaz Festival. This unique musical group has a style that combines traditional Yemen melodies with jazz, blues and funk to create a sound unlike any other.

When: Saturday, February 26 at 8:30 PM
Where:The Mod Club, 722 College St.
Tickets: $25 in advance (416.979.9901), $30 at the door

Tickets and info are here: http://www.ashkenazfestival.com/ongoing-events/

For an even better deal, Koffler members can get two tickets for $40! If you’re not yet a member, sign up ASAP to save on tickets. Memberships start at only $36 and include a ton of benefits!

The second event this weekend is a reading by Charles Foran from his new book, Mordecai: The Life and Times.

Foran, who was born and raised in Toronto, has had a prolific writing career so it’s no surprise that Mordecai: The Life and Times has received rave reviews. When writing it, Foran was given access to previously restricted material, and he later had the book looked over by Florence, Mordecai Richler’s widow.

When: Sunday, February 27 at 7:00pm
Where: The Curtain Club in Richmond Hill
Tickets: $15 (905.773.3434)

Casandra Campbell