Jewish festival season is upon us—but who are these events for, anyway?

Josh Dolgin, a.k.a Socalled, with a 20-piece jazz band, during a pre-recorded performance that will air for this year's Ashkenaz Festival. (Photo courtesy Eric Stein)

Festival season is upon us, which means Canadian Jews are marking their calendars with the myriad dates slotted for cultural celebrations across the country. But who are these events made for, and who actually shows up? Are Jewish festivals designed only for those with the means to buy tickets, or is there a greater mandate to foster community through innovation and outreach to younger audiences?

We pitch the question to Helen Zukerman, artistic director of the Toronto Jewsh Film Festival, which Avi believes is too narrow in its scope (though Ilana and David disagree); after that, the heads of KlezKanada and Ashkenaz Festival, Sebastian Schulman and Eric Stein, join to discuss their efforts in crafting Jewish festivals that are fundamentally diverse, unique and engaging.

Plus, we’ll hear from Shlomo Steinmetz on the yahrzeit of his son Dovi, who died at the Mount Meron tragedy in Israel last year.

What we talked about


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold, Ilana Zackon and David Sklar. Michael Fraiman is the producer. Andre Goulet is the technical producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.