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Saturday, December 20, 2014

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 Yiddish poet being remembered in song

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Tramway Lider (Streetcar Songs) is the title of a set of poems by Toronto Yiddish poet and streetcar conductor Shimen Nepom about life on the streetcar.

Nepom, who was born in Ukraine in 1890 and died in Toronto in 1939, is being remembered in performance this week by Charles Heller, who has set some of the poems to music and baritone.

 “With their images of journeying through the bitter Toronto winter to make a living during the harsh years of the Depression,” the Streetcar Songs “evoke the journeying and existential quest of Schubert’s Winterreise,” according to Heller, an accomplished composer-arranger who worked with the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and the late Marvin Hamlisch.

 It seems especially fitting that Heller is preparing to sing these songs– to the accompaniment of Brahm Goldhamer’s piano – at the Free Times Café, 320 College St., along the same route that Nepom once drove as a conductor. Yiddish Vinkl, Thursday Sept. 6, noon. $18 includes buffet lunch. RSVP, sol@yiddishvinkl.com

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Salute to Jerusalem: Celebrity chef David Rocco cooks up some spectacular Roman cuisine at Saluti a Jerusalem, a food, art, music and wine event presented by the Jerusalem Foundation and Villa Charities. The event also includes a photo exhibit by Neil Dankoff and Beverley Abramson. $250; proceeds to help build a friendship garden at Canada House in Jerusalem. 416-635-5491, ileventhal@jerusalemfoundation.ca

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The Sistine Secrets: Roy Doliner, co-author of the bestselling book The Sistine Secrets, speaks on the Jewish symbolism, secret messages and forbidden mystical knowledge concealed within the paintings in the Sistine Chapel. Presented by the Koffler Centre of the Arts. Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery, Columbus Centre, 901 Lawrence Ave. W. Sept 6, 7:30 p.m. Free admission but RSVP required to vmoreno@kofflerarts.org or phone 416-638-4249.

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Names in the News: Joseph Baruch Silver, a former Torontonian who is now an Israeli senator living in Jerusalem, has loaned some snuff bottles, scroll artwork and other items to the Royal Ontario Museum for inclusion in the exhibition Small Skills, Special Effects: Unusual Chinese Works of Art, which opened in July. Silver’s valuable snuff bottles have previously been the subject of a show at the Gardiner Museum, right across the street from the ROM; he met Ka Bo Tsang, curator of the ROM show, years ago at an international snuff bottle society meeting. The exhibition continues at the ROM until next February.

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Arts in Brief

 • Friends of  Yiddish annual membership breakfast features Norene Gilletz, food writer and cookbook author, speaking on Sharing Food Memories. Beth Tikvah Synagogue, 3080 Bayview Ave. Sunday Sept. 9, 10:30 a.m. Members free, guests $15. RSVP to Sandy, 416-736-8073 or yiddish18@yahoo.ca

 • Active Seniors & Boomers presents an illustrated presentation about the Art & Life of Frida Kahlo. Miles Nadal JCC, Sept. 13, 1:30 p.m.

• Three days of free drop-in classes, music performances, food and family fun at both the Prosserman JCC and Schwartz/Reisman Centre, Sept. 10, 11 & 12. Also free trial classes in ceramics and visual arts at Schwartz/Reisman. Details at www.kofflerarts.org

 • Lore, a film by Australian writer-director Cate Shortland, offers a riveting and complex look into a rarely seen legacy of the Holocaust. The 14-year-old daughter of two SS officers in wartime Germany must put her trust in the very person she was always taught to hate in order to survive. The film is an official selection of the upcoming 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

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At the Galleries: Homeland, an exhibition of art works by London, Ont.-based artist Thelma Rosner, focuses on the Palestinian and Israeli communities of Israel – “divided by conflict, yet connected by history, culture and national aspirations.” A painter, Rosner uses doubling, reversal and mirroring of images to convey the conflicting territorial claims of the two peoples. While the doubling affirms the values and validity of both cultures, opposition is implied in the reversals and the use of walls or fences. The doubling created by mirrors also suggests places both real and unrealized. Homeland is on view at Museum London (London, Ont.) until Oct. 28.

 • Oil paintings and multi-media prints and drawings on paper by Ira Moscowitz, an artist who traveled the world in search of the mystical, highlight themes of Native American and Parisian culture; Moscowitz also did some book illustrations for Isaac Bashevis Singer’s fiction. His exhibition, Spiritual Routes, is on view in the Miles Nadal JCC, Sept. 13 to 26. Presented by the Al Green Gallery and Ashkenaz.

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