ASHKENAZ: A FESTIVAL OF NEW YIDDIS CULTURE
Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West), to Monday (September 4). Free-$30. www.ashkenazfestival.com.
WHO: Mitch Smolkin, artistic director of the Ashkenaz festival
WHAT: Ashkenaz, a festival fostering increased awareness of Yiddish culture through the arts, including music, theatre, art, dance, literature, cabaret and film.
UNIQUE FACTOR? "Ashkenaz is a warm embrace for artists working in a Jewish medium."
DO YOU HAVE TO BE JEWISH? "No. There more than 30 words we all use regularly - "chutzpah," "schmooze," for example - whose origins are Jewish and many people don't know it. We actually make a point of booking our events in venues that aren't specifically Jewish. And my Jewish friends always tell me that at these events they don't recognize people, which wouldn't happen at a Jewish-only event."
BEST BAGEL IN TOWN? "I'm not a wheat eater, but I'll make an exception for Bella's brunch at the Free Times Café."
FAVOURITE PLACE IN T.O. TO GO TO CONNECT TO YOUR JEWISHNESS "I don't need a place. My mom's the archetypal Yidishe mama. It won't matter where I am, she'll find a way to bring me food. One time she told me to go to Holy Blossom Temple to pick up a package. The people there couldn't believe it."
FAVOURITE JEWISH-THEMED MOVIE? "Korczak, directed by Andrzej Wajda, about a doctor and his orphanage and how he saved lives during the second world war. The Pianist had the Hollywood sheen. This feels much more real."
FAVOURITE JEWISH COMIC? "Robin Williams."
HE'S JEWISH? "He's Jewish to me."