Webinars

Growing Up Jewish: Art and Storytelling
The Paintings of Jacqueline Kott-Wolle and Photographs from the Collections of the OJA

Recorded live on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 | 7:30pm EST

An evening of family nostalgia with snapshots from the OJA collection and the bold and vibrant paintings of Toronto-born, Chicago-based artist Jacqueline Kott-Wolle. In conversation with art historian Sara Angel, Kott-Wolle discusses how candid family photography informs her recent work and explores a personal yet quintessential brand of Jewish identity. As a descendant of Holocaust survivors, Kott-Wolle's work also reflects deeply on the rebuilding and family life of survivor families.

Jacqueline Kott-Wolle (b.1969) lives in Highland Park, IL where she paints full time.  In 2005, after moving to Chicago from Toronto with her family, Jacqueline fulfilled a long-time goal of developing her ability to paint by studying at The Art Center of Highland Park.  Using a fresh palette of color, Kott-Wolle currently paints in oils and focuses on capturing precious moments with her family and friends. Her most recent project, entitled “Growing Up Jewish - Art and Storytelling” is a series of 35 contemporary oil paintings and personal narratives exploring her North American brand of Jewish identity and how it evolved through five generations of her family. Her work has been exhibited in both group and solo exhibitions. Jacqueline’s works are in private collections throughout the United States, Canada and Israel.

Dr. Sara Angel is the Founder, Executive Director, and Publisher of the Art Canada Institute at the University of Toronto. An expert on Nazi-era art restitution and a recognized authority on visual culture, she writes for publications including Maclean’s, Canadian Art, The Walrus, and The Globe and Mail to make the world of art accessible to a broad audience. She has had an extensive career in arts journalism including being editor-in-chief of Chatelaine, a commentator for CBC television’s On the Arts, an editor for Saturday Night, and a columnist for The National Post. Angel has been a guest lecturer at institutions including Harvard University, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Israel Museum. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three children.


Why wear fur at the end of May?: Stories by Yiddish-Speaking Immigrants of Their Arrival in Canada (1890-1930)

Recorded live on Sunday, May 2, 2021 | 1:00pm EST

A Canadian Jewish Heritage Month lecture with Vardit Lightstone, presented by the UJA Committee for Yiddish and the Ontario Jewish Archives.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s thousands of Yiddish-speaking Jews arrived in Canada as part of the Great Migration of Jews from Eastern Europe, unprepared for the range of new experiences they would face. This talk will explore their first impressions of Canada as presented in their own personal Yiddish narratives: the struggles of migration, as well as the creativity, strength of spirit, and humour with which these Eastern European Jews faced them. The material included in this talk is from published and archival writings, including from the collections housed in the Ontario Jewish Archives.

Vardit Lightstone is a doctoral candidate in a collaborative program between the University of Toronto and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The working title of her dissertation is "Performing Immigrant Identity: Canadian Yiddish Life Stories". In 2020, her article entitled "Becoming Canadian: Folk literary innovation in the memoirs of Yiddish speaking immigrants to Canada", appeared in Canadian Jewish Studies, vol. 29. Her doctoral research this year is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Canadian Friends of Hebrew University.


Celebrating Dr. May Cohen

Recorded live on Monday, March 8, 2021 | 7:30pm EST

Celebrating International Women’s Day by Honouring Dr. May Cohen

Prior to becoming a powerful advocate for women’s health and the advancement of female physicians, Dr. May Cohen and her husband, Dr. Gerry Cohen, ran a successful medical practice for twenty years in the heart of Toronto’s Bathurst Manor community. In conversation with Dr. Paula David, clinical, educational, and intergenerational expert working with elderly Holocaust survivors and their families, Dr. May Cohen shares her experiences practicing family medicine in Toronto’s first Jewish suburb. In the mid-1950s, the Manor became home to young Jewish families (including the Cohen family!), many of whom were newly arrived Holocaust survivors. Following their conversation, filmmakers and members of the Cohen family were available for the Q&A.


Jewish Images from the Early Days of CBC: The Stories of Morley Torgov

Recorded live on Wednesday, February 3, 2021 | 7:30pm EST, Zoom Q&A

In partnership with the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and Holy Blosssom Temple. Featuring writer Morley Torgov; Lawrence Mirkin, Story Editor in the CBC TV Drama Department in the mid-1970s; Robert Cohen, Director on the Executive Committee at Congregation Beth Jacob in Sault Ste. Marie. 

Morley Torgov is an award-winning writer, who brought to life stories about Jewish communities in small-town Ontario with humour, warmth and a critical eye. In the mid-seventies, the drama department at CBC produced a series of television plays based on his acclaimed memoir, A Good Place to Come From (1974) about growing up in Sault Ste. Marie. Although these TV adaptations were done by other writers (Conrad Bromberg and Israel Horovitz), here is a chance to see how his sensibility was transferred to the screen. A practicing lawyer since the mid-Fifties, Morley Torgov won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour for A Good Place to Come From and The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick (1982). In 2015, he was awarded the Order of Canada for his “contribution to Canadian humour.” Today, at age 93, he is still a prolific author, with a successful series of crime novels.


The South African Jewish Experience: A Webinar Exploring Jewish Life in Toronto and South Africa

Recorded live on Sunday, October 18, 2020 | 11:00am EST

Summers in Muizenberg, SAJAC News, Habonim, Kehillat Shaarei Torah, the Millway townhouses and Boerewors. What do all these things have in common? Find out in a photo-rich webinar about the history of Jewish life in South Africa and the immigration of Jewish Southern Africans to Canada.

Gavin Morris, Director of the South African Jewish Museum shares anecdotes, images and films from the Toronto-bound exhibition The Goldene Medina that tells the 175-years story of Jewish life in South Africa. Dara Solomon, Executive Director of the Ontario Jewish Archives pairs this history with images and interview clips from the OJA’s recent Southern African Legacy Project, which captures the experience of those South Africans who made Ontario their home. Together, they explore the unique experiences of these groups and what shifted in their Jewish identity upon migration to Canada. Q+A follows.


The Honest Ed's Experience: Exploring a Toronto Icon

Recorded live on Thursday, August 27, 2020 | 8:00pm EST

TJFF and OJA present a special screening series celebrating the life and legacy of Jewish impresario Ed Mirvish and his beloved discount store, Honest Ed’s, a landmark for generations of immigrants upon their arrival in Toronto. Using the new, celebrated documentary, There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace by Toronto filmmaker Lulu Wei as its starting off point, this collection of four films and one panel discussion explores the store’s impact on the city, the history of the diverse cultural community that emerged around the Honest Ed’s block, and the future of these residents in the wake of the store’s closing in 2016 and Toronto’s current condo boom. Webinar with Lulu Wei (Director of There’s No Place Like This Place, Anyplace), Itah Sadu (owner of A Different Booklist), Franca Longobardi (Advertising Manager at Honest Ed’s), Ken Greenberg (urban designer and author of Walking Home and Toronto Reborn), Gene Mascardelli (Producer of Honest Ed Mirvish: The World’s Most Unusual Shopkeeper).


The Untold Story of Jewish Women and the Second World War

Recorded live on Thursday, August 6, 2020 | 8:00pm EST

Journalist Ellin Bessner and Women Studies scholar Jennifer Shaw discuss the significant roles Jewish women played in the Second World War. This neglected history illuminates not only the status of women in Canada but also the challenges Jews faced during this time and how Canadian Jewish identity was shaped by this war-time experience. While Bessner focuses on Jewish women who served in the military, Shaw explores the stories of women who developed ground-breaking programs at home to support the troops and their families. Both scholars did extensive research at the Ontario Jewish Archives and highlight these records in their talk. The conversation is moderated by Caryn Lieberman, Senior Broadcast Journalist with Global News.

This program is part of the OJA’s ongoing series Our Stories Are Your Stories Speaker Series
Co-presented by the Ontario Jewish Archives, the Virtual J, and the National Council of Jewish Women, Toronto.


Now You Know: Vos Estu: A Conversation About Early Jewish Food Sources in Toronto

Recorded live on Tuesday, June 23, 2020 | 8:00pm EST

The COVID-19 Pandemic has sparked a major return to homesteading and more than ever, we are considering where our food comes from. This approach to food prep shares much in common with the early Jewish community’s way of life in Kensington Market, almost 100 years ago. Join OJA Executive Director Dara Solomon for a conversation with UofT Yiddish Doctoral student Miriam Borden and food scholar Joel Dickau about Toronto’s early Jewish culinary infrastructure. They cover a range of topics including kosher chicken, ritual and regulations, and the move to the suburbs.


Now You Know: Being Jewish During a Pandemic: What’s Lost | What’s Gained?

 Recorded live on Monday, May 25, 2020 | 4:00 pm EST

Join the Ontario Jewish Archives for a webinar exploring how COVID-19 has impacted Jewish communal life. Stanford University PhD candidate Josh Tapper who is working to document the impact of COVID-19 on the Jewish community is in conversation with Memorial University folklorist Jillian Gould. Moderated by OJA Executive Director Dara Solomon, Josh and Jillian discuss how this unprecedented period of social isolation that has disrupted much of Jewish communal life, has also given rise to renewed connections to Jewish tradition and ritual in our homes.


Unpacking the Jewish Camp Experience

Recorded live on Thursday, May 28, 2020 | 8:00pm EST

How did your camp years shape you? What stays with you after all these years? How was your Jewish camp experience a uniquely Jewish one? Take a virtual walk-through the Ontario Jewish Archives’ rich collection of camp photos followed by a lively conversation about the Ontario Jewish camp experience, then and now. Join us for a session filled with nostalgia, music, and reflection about the significance of this quintessential Jewish experience. Led by Dara Solomon, Executive Director of the Ontario Jewish Archives and Historian & Associate Professor David Koffman, Chair for the Study of Canadian Jewry at York University. They are joined in conversation by Mark Kachuk, Assistant Director at Canadian Young Judaea. 

Unpacking the Jewish Camp Experience was part of Virtual Tikkun Leil Shavuot, presented by the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre.


Art Out of the Archives: From Yiddish Theatre to Kung Fu Films to Contemporary Art

Recorded live on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 | 4:00pm EST

Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) Executive Director Dara Solomon and FENTSTER Curator Evelyn Tauben discuss the history of the Standard Theatre (at the north-east corner of Dundas and Spadina), the subject of their 2018 joint exhibition featuring multi-disciplinary Toronto artist Shellie Zhang. The theatre served as a cultural destination for both the Jewish and Chinese communities, opening as a Yiddish theatre in 1922 and five decades later presenting Chinese cinema as the Golden Harvest Theatre. Sharing materials pulled from the OJA collection as well as other private and public archives, the conversation explores how the theatre connected Chinese and Jewish immigrants with their distinctive cultures and native languages. Discover the surprising backstory of this heritage building and how nearly 100 years after its opening, Zhang represented two significant cultural institutions through a much buzzed-about neon art installation.