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See the Line Up for Tarbut Festival of Jewish Culture 2015 November 14 - 22, 2015 Rady JCC

by Jane Enkin, October 19, 2015




The opening event of the Rady JJC's Tarbut Festival of Jewish Culture 2015 is the concert Ron Paley presents: A Tribute to Neil, Billy, Barry and Bette-Sat. Nov 14, 8:00 p.m.


Winnipeg treasure Ron Paley will lead Julian Bradford on bass and Rob Siwik on drums, as Lisa Bell, Curtis Newton and Keith Macpherson sing the songs of Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Bette Midler and more. Expect terrific jazz arrangements of well-known and well-loved tunes. This will be a fun salute to famous Jewish pop stars, part of Tarbut's successful series of tribute concerts.


From Israel, the band Baladino brings their program Ladino Music of Spain-Nov 19, 7:30 p.m.


Baladino makes music deeply rooted in traditional folk music from the Mediterranean. Ancient instruments, intricate hand-drumming and highly ornamented vocals are supported by Western instruments, both acoustic and electric – plus an unusual wind instrument that I hope makes an appearance here, a contraption that looks like some long pipes tied together and sounds like a cross between a flute and a didgeridoo. I really appreciate the powerful connection they maintain to the folk origins of their material, and their infectiously light-hearted, celebratory approach. I love the samples I heard online – this group looks and sounds terrific. Not to be missed.



New York band Pharaoh's Daughter takes a more eclectic approach to folk music.-Sat. Nov 21, 8:00 p.m.


Leader Basya Schechter blends world music rhythms and harmonies to make her own energetic, delicate sound, with spiritual lyrics in Hebrew, Aramaic, Ladino, Yiddish and English. See my interview with her in this issue of WJR.




American author Nomi Eve will speak about her novel Henna House. Wed. Nov 18



Presented as a work of historical fiction, this novel is more significantly a work of cultural fiction, with fascinating details about life in a small town “a day's ride” from a city in Yemen. Clothing, food, magical amulets and stories are all described. There are betrothals, weddings, births and deaths. And of course the role of henna painting in women's lives is explored.


The story begins in the 1920s, and follows Adela as she grows up in her village, as her family eventually leaves their home, and finally as they arrive in the new country of Israel. Her village childhood is not romanticized. The chores she does for her hostile mother and the tasks she does for her loving father in his shoemaker's shop are physically demanding. Her mother and brothers beat her and mistreat her in ways that are presented as simply typical. And most importantly, the non-Jewish government imposes harsh and degrading laws on Jews. From the age of five, Adela has strong reasons to fear the Confiscator, the man with the job of taking any Jewish child who loses their father; these children are taken from the community immediately and converted to Islam.


Intricate family relationships are at the heart of the book, and there are romantic love stories as well. Eve's language is vivid, with occasional slides into dreams and, at least from the perspective of a child, the imagery of magical realism. “In front of my eyes, the shoes grew tails, ears and whiskers, turning into rats that the Confiscator could feed to the snakes on his knife.” The beautiful language, the intriguing cultural details, and the tender portraits of Adela and the people she loves make Henna House an appealing book.


David Matas will speak about his book Why Did You Do That? The Autobiography of a Human Rights Advocate. Sunday Nov 22 11:00 a.m.


David Matas is a human rights advocate with a significant international impact. A member of the Order of Canada, Winnipeg's Matas has a distinguished career as a lawyer, professor, writer and activist. In his most recent book, his 11th, he reaches beyond his own life story to encourage readers to care and to act for the rights of others. “By trying to explain why I have done what I have done, I hope to mobilize others not to do what I have done, but rather just to do something, to shed feelings of indifference and impotence, to join the international human rights cause.”


I was privileged to hear David Matas speak on issues of immigration and refugees when Winnipeg Friends of Israel hosted an evening about the Yazidi community. Matas brilliantly demonstrated that issues that appear simple are actually deeply complex and require thoughtful responses on the part of governments, the judiciary and citizens. (See my WJR article, March 28, 2015)


Ambassador Dennis Ross has just released his new book, Doomed to Succeed:The US-Israeli Relationship from Truman to Obama. Sun Nov 15, 7:30 p.m.


Dennis Ross has served American administrations from Reagan through Obama. After first specializing in the study of Soviet policy, he then became an expert and influential diplomat in American policy in the Middle East.


Doomed to Succeed, says Tarbut publicity, “highlights the lessons that should have been learned and were not, and what the implications are for US policy toward Israel and the region today.” Part history, part analysis, the book is a forum for Ross' strongly held opinions based on years of experience in high-level diplomacy.


In a recent interview on NPR's All Things Considered, Ross expressed concerns about the lack of trust between the current leaders of the US and Israel. “I think when they meet on November 9, they will try to mend fences because the region is in such turmoil. The last thing you need at a time when the region is really unraveling, the state system is under assault, there's a conflict over basic identity is for us to have a problem with the Israelis, who represent the one country in the region that is really based on institutions, separation of powers and independent judiciary and the like.”


Danita Dubinsky Aziza will present on her book Finding Home: A Journey of Life Lessons in the Land of Israel. Sun Nov 22, 3:00 p.m.


From her website:

“Danita Dubinsky Aziza is a third generation Canadian who, in 2008, along with her husband, three teenage children and family pet, left her comfy cozy life in Winnipeg, Canada to pursue a lifelong dream of living in Israel. Danita offers readers an understanding of Israel that could not be uncovered by simply gazing out the window of a tour bus or reading the headlines of a newspaper.”


I found that Aziza writes in a relaxed, conversational style jam-packed with delicious anecdotes. Her arrangement of the book into a series of life lessons really works. In a chapter “Everyone Minding Your Business” this story appears:

“Someone sent you a present from Jerusalem?” the postman proposed as he handed me the box. “What's the occasion?” he continued, “Maybe a birthday?” “Well, it was my birthday last week.” I replied a little hesitantly. “A birthday, mazal tov, may you live to a hundred and twenty,” he said with complete sincerity before he jumped back into his truck and continued on to his next order of business.




Dough is a 2014 film from the UK. Monday, Nov  16, 7:30 p.m.


Dough tells the story of an old Jewish baker and his young Muslim apprentice. It's billed as “a warmhearted and gently humorous film about overcoming prejudice and finding redemption in unexpected places.”


From Israel, Latzud Pilim – Hunting Elephants is in Hebrew with English subtitles.

Tues. Nov 17, 7:30 p.m.


“Sir Patrick Stewart and an impressive cast of Israeli top talent give hilarious comic turns in Hunting Elephants, a laugh-out-loud bank heist caper and coming-of age film.”


Tarbut is also home to the Jewish Book Fair Sale and the Tarbut Shuk.


For tickets and information:

204 477-7510

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