Schedule – Limmud Ottawa 2018 2018-02-16T09:36:47+00:00

NOTE: This page will be updated as details become available. Session times will be added closer to the event.

Jewish political participation in mid-19th century Canada

“In 1888, Prime Minister Macdonald was challenged on the lack of Jews in public offices. Macdonald responded “… the Jews as a body …. preferred to push their fortune in the various professions and industries open to everybody in Canada.” This session explores why despite financial and business success, it was difficult for Jews to attain public office.”

Susan Landau-Chark, Ph.D,  is the Associate Director of the Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies. Her most recent publication is “Traversing the 49th Parallel: The Jewish Experience Prior to 1881,” written for Neither in Dark Speeches nor in Similitudes: Reflections and Refractions Between Canadian and American Jews (2016).

Ottawa on the Moldau: The English-language Premiere of the Jewish Children’s Opera Brundibár in Ottawa, 1977

In November 1977, Ottawa was the unlikely site for the English-language premiere of Hans Krasa’s  Brundibár (1943). Performed for the first time in Theresienstadt over thirty years earlier, the work was more than a piece of music; it was a children’s opera that inspired the Jewish community to maintain hope during the Holocaust.

Today we take for granted the importance of such works that have been embedded into a wider Holocaust commemorative frame. But why was it important to perform Brundibár in 1977? This audio-visual presentation will explore the circumstances surrounding its Ottawa premiere and situate the event within the broader frame of Canadian Jewish identity.

Hernan Tesler-Mabé received his Ph.D. in History in 2010 and is a Part-time Professor at the University of Ottawa.  His research focuses on Jewish identity in Europe and the Americas.  Dr. Tesler-Mabé is Secretary and Executive Member of the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies.

The Quest for a Russian Homeland

An effort by Russian Jews to create a Jewish homeland in the Soviet Union in the 1920s grabbed the attention of Jews everywhere. Helped by an improbable alliance of Moscow revolutionaries and Wall Street financiers, this was attempt to remake a portion of Soviet Jewish into a prosperous peasant farmer class — and construct a nationality-based republic similar to other Soviet creations. Palestine versus Crimea debates occurred across North America. The projected homeland would be located in southern Ukraine and in the Crimea —areas now at the centre of global concerns about Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The scheme was the victim of its own success. Significant Jewish interest provoked local nationalist reactions and triggered worry in Moscow about a rise in Jewish nationalism. Moscow picked a remote and forbidding piece of the Russian Far East — Birobidjan — to substitute as a Jewish Autonomous Region. Russian Jewish interest in a Crimean homeland resurfaced after the devastation of the Holocaust in the tense time before the declaration of Israel’s independence in 1948

Allan Laine Kagedan earned a Ph.D. in history and political science from Columbia University. He has served as an Adjunct Research Professor at McGill University and Carleton University and is an Affiliate of the Max And Tessie Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies. He has written on international affairs and national security issues. His book Soviet Zion: The Quest for a Russian Jewish Homeland was published by St. Martin’s press in 1994. Dr. Kagedan served in the Canadian public service for close to three decades, including as Chief of Aviation Security Policy, Director of National Security Operations and Senior Advisor to the Canadian Defence Academy. He chaired international security and public safety working groups at the G7/G8 and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). He currently consults on international relations and national security.

An exploration of the halachic – Jewish legal – considerations for women in mourning and reciting kaddish

Lila Kagedan attended Ottawa’s  Hillel Academy, Machon Sarah was in the first graduating class of Yitzchak Rabin High School, is he first Orthodox woman to adopt the title of Rabbi.  Ordained in 2015 by Yeshivat  Maharat. She is senior rabbi at Walnut Street Synagogue in Chelsea MA. She is found of of the Sulam School in Brookline,MA. She is an instructor of bioethics at New York Medical College and a clinical ethicist as well as a chaplain in hospitals and hospices. She is currently studying for Yadin Yadin smicha.

Israel – Diaspora relations today: are we still dependent on one another?

A unique perspective on the relationship of the State of Israel with Diaspora Jewry.

Shimon Koffler Fogel serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. A Jonas Clark Fellow, he completed his graduate and doctoral studies at McGill University. He is an ordained Rabbi and developed the globally accepted model of “shared values” for pro-Israel advocacy.

Religious Israel: Between Kashrut and the Wall

A session on current Israeli society matters such as Kosher restaurants and halachic weddings done privately, Shabbat in public places, and other interesting topics that explains a little bit of what else religious is on the headlines apart from the wall.

Daniel Tor is a community ambassador of Hebrew University , Earned a B.A. in economics,  and  M.A. In political science and Gender studies. Position as political and campaign staff in the Knesset.  Has worked as a cook at the chefs restaurant  ‘MachneYudah’ in Jerusalem.

Orit Tor is a community ambassador of Hebrew University. Holds a political science, Jewish history and General history.  Served as a Jewish agency emissary to Australia and South Africa.  Worked in Jewish tourism for Birthright, Masa, and the Knesset.

Under a Censored Sky: Astronomy and Rabbinic Authority

In this presentation, Dr. Lobel will describe various forms of rabbinic authority found in texts addressing the celestial concerns of astronomy, astrology, astral magic, astrolatry, and cosmogony (creation). She will then discuss the possible reasons for these authority plays in rabbinic literature

Andrea D. Lobel holds an M.A. in Religious Studies (McGill University), and a Ph.D. in Religion (Concordia University), specializing in the history of religion and science, astronomy and religion, celestial mythologies, calendars, magic, and religious authority in the Hebrew Bible and its ancient Near Eastern context, as well as early and rabbinic Judaism. She is also an ordained non-denominational rabbi.

Andrea has taught at both McGill and Concordia Universities, and is a Research Associate at the Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies at Carleton University. Her book Under a Censored Sky: Astronomy and Rabbinic Authority in the Talmud Bavli and Related Literature, is forthcoming from Brill Publishers in 2018.

Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence’s Greatest Cover-Up.  

Recruited by Canada’s most powerful neo-Nazi white supremacist group, the Heritage Front, and mentored to be a leader in the global neo-Nazi movement by infamous Holocaust deniers such as Ernst Zundel and former Klansman Wolfgang Droege.

Elisa Hategan at age 18, turned against the group and spied on the organization and its leaders for months, providing dozens of affidavits to police. She also testified against Wolfgang Droege and other Front leaders in a Human Rights Commission tribunal that led to convictions and jail sentences.  She  is the inspiration for the 1998 CBC film WHITE LIES starring Sarah Polley, and her story has since been published in the 2014 memoir White supremacy  Race Traitor: The True Story of Canadian Intelligence’s Greatest Cover-Up.  

Recycling and Reinterpreting Art: From cave walls to Knockin’ On Heavens Door

Summary: Discussing artistic re-interpretation, within and across forms (e.g. West Side Story, Fantasia, David’s short story ‘covers’ of Tragically Hip songs); and whether all songs are just Twinkle Twinkle.

David  Sachs is author of two bestselling books, including Tragically Hip, Twisted: Illustrated stories inspired by Hip songs. He has written on culture and politics for most of Canada’s major dailies, and is a feared boogie-woogie pianist.

Reminiscences of a Life in Politics

Sharon Sholzberg-Gray was a political spouse, the wife of the Rt. Hon. Herb Gray, Canada’s first Jewish federal Cabinet Minister. She will speak on the ups and downs of public life, the special role of a Jewish politician, and the challenge of dual high profile careers.

Sharon Sholzberg-Gray  was trained as a lawyer and worked for many years as a Health Association CEO and health system spokesperson, appearing regularly before Parliamentary Committees. Now retired she writes, speaks and serves on voluntary boards.


Arie Chark

The Joy of Hebrew Chant

Chanting is the repetition of a sacred phrase, transforming words of liturgy and Torah with beautiful melodies and deep spiritual intention to unlock the treasures of the heart and healing. Come experience the joy of this devotional practice.

Lorne Mallin immersed himself in the captivating music and chant.

The Music of the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda

The music of the Abayudaya of Uganda is a tapestry of Jewish prayer and African melodies and rhythms. Experience a multimedia presentation about this unique Jewish community and learn to sing their music in Hebrew and the Luganda tribal language.

Lorne Mallin immersed himself in the captivating music of the Abayudaya when he lived in Uganda 2009-2010.

So Why Can’t I Cook My Chicken in Milk?

No one has ever seen a chicken nurse its young.  So how does the thrice-repeated caution in the Torah not to cook a kid in its mother’s milk apply to chickens (or other kosher fowl)?  That question, which goes back at least as far as the Talmud, is the subject of this talk.

Dr David B. Brooks, who was educated in geology and economics, spent much of his professional career with Canada’s International Development Research Centre.  His current research focuses on water conservation in North America and water policy in Israel and Palestine.  He has written or edited about 15 books, and in 2012 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo.

Being a Sephardic Moroccan Venezuelan Canadian Jew: A case of multiple identities

Who am I? Where am I from? What’s my accent? Do I have an accent? I don’t have clear answers to these questions. I invite you to explore Jewish identity in this cosmopolitan world.

Issac Nahon-Serfaty is an  Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Communication, University of Ottawa. Was born in Tangier (Morocco). Co-authored with Meir Magar a very Sephardic novel in Spanish (La conjura del esplendor) that has been translated into English as Splendor’s intrigue.

The Buzz About Bees: How to encourage these valuable pollinators.

Leslie Smith is the owner of Red House Honey, a small apiary and market garden on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. She has been beekeeping and selling OVH-certified kosher honey for several years.

How I learned to stop hating Muslims: An inside look at the nasty counter-jihad.

There is within the conservative movement a nasty and shadowy “counter-jihad” subculture. For a couple of years, I was part of this movement until I saw just how corrosive the anti-Muslim attitudes could get. In this seminar, I will talk about the websites and people behind the counter-jihad, what they believe in, and why these people must be purged from the conservative movement.

Fred Litwin is a marketing and sales professional who worked nine years for Intel Corporation in the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong. In 1998-1999, Fred managed a team of twenty people organizing the launch of the Pentium III microprocessor in Asia. In 2000, he founded Northern Blues Music, a cutting-edge label dedicated to stretching the boundaries of the blues. To date, the company has released over 70 CDs, and has garnered twelve Juno Award nominations and over forty Blues Music Award nominations in the United States. In 2007, Fred started the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa to showcase films on liberty, freedom and democracy. The Society has now shown over 100 films and also organizes book launches and panel discussions. Fred is the author of Conservative Confidential: Inside the Fabulous Blue Tent, which details his journey from left-wing anti-nuclear activist in Toronto to Conservative Party campaigner in Ottawa. Fred has also written articles for the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen, the Toronto Sun, C2C Journal and iPolitics.

Behind the exhibit:  Face to Face – Portraits from the Ottawa Jewish Archives

A look at the making of the Archives Exhibition currently on display at the Soloway JCC.

Guest speaker(s) related to an individual featured in the exhibition TBA.

Saara Mortensen  is an experienced Archivist with a demonstrated history of work in the nonprofit sector. Skilled in archival research, report and policy writing, creative design, digitization, and record in successfully winning grants. Strong strategic planner, communicator, storyteller, advocate for culture and heritage.

Songs of Leonard Cohen by the Tower of Song Band

Ottawa’s Tower of Song band presents an hour of some of Leonard Cohen’s most loved songs. Our band’s accordion and harmonica performers add a unique flavour to Cohen’s words and melodies. We look forward to performing these unforgettable songs for you. Jerry Golland and the Band’s mutual love for the words and songs of Leonard Cohen inspired us to form a band with the vision of keeping Cohen’s songs alive.

Jerry Golland has been singing and playing guitar for 55 years! It started in Montreal by learning classical guitar at the age of 13, then bought his first guitar with his Bar Mitzvah money. An itinerant musician in Europe, then in Turkey where he performed throughout the 70s in bars and restaurants in Athens, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Miami, Toronto and Ottawa where he has lived for nearly 25 years. After returning to Canada in 1991, it rekindled his appreciation for Leonard Cohen. The band – Tower of Song has gone through several transformations over the years. The musicality and dedication of its current quintet makes it a pleasure and an honour to perform with them.

So You Want to Publish Your Own Book

Miriam recently self-published a children’s book, An ABC of Ottawa. It was a successful venture, selling over 1000 copies. She will share her experience of getting the book written and designed, printed, promoted, and distributed into local stores: the process, pitfalls, costs and rewards.

Miriam Bloom worked for forty years as a graphic designer in Toronto, Winnipeg, Montreal and Ottawa. She designed books and materials for McGill-Queen’s Press, the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, several governments and other commercial clients.


Merle learned Esperanto in her youth, appreciating the concept of speaking an international language beneficial for travelling and having penpals. She met her future husband in the class; they have travelled to places they would have never considered visiting, because of knowing ‘La Universala Lingvo’. In this session, Merle will outline the history of the man made language. You will leave able to speak some sentences.

Merle Haltrecht-Matte  was born and educated in Ottawa. She is a retired elementary school teacher having taught JK through to Grade 6 over her 33 year career. She currently plays and teaches mahjong, and volunteers a lot of her time – for IsraelConnect, Temple Israel, and a retirees’ online organization. Merle was the 2016 recipient of the Shem Tov Award. She is the coordinator of Creative Connections for AJA 50+.

Panel:  Women’s Vital Voices

This panel is intended to bring women from various faith communities together to discuss how we can live better together; how do we promote meaningful relationships and at the same time combat evolving misconceptions.

Amrit Kaur since 2006 has had leadership roles and been involved in Gurdwara initiatives, youth events, and awareness campaigns. She is currently the vice president of the Quebec and Atlantic region for the World Sikh Organization of Canada

Shifra Scher spent  a year studying at Seminary in Jerusalem, she returned to the States to continue her education pursuing Sonography at Johns Hopkins University.  Upon moving to Ottawa, Shifra has become the Rebbetzin at Congregation Machzikei Hadas, as well as a sought after teacher and speaker in our community.

Leanne Moussa studied Political Science and French Language and received her MA in Political Science at Carleton University. She is president and Founder of All Saints Development Inc. She is also co-founder of the Prime Ministers’ Row. She has been mobilizing people and groups to find innovative solutions to effect change.

Deidre Butler, the panel moderator, is Director of the Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies and the Jewish Studies specialist in the Religion program at Carleton University. She researches and teaches at the intersections of religion, gender, sexuality, and Jewish thought as well as the Limmud Ottawa’s fearless academic advisor.

Future(s) of Terrorism: Salafi-Jihadi Insurgencies and Emerging Trends

The threat from terrorist and insurgent groups has grown significantly in recent years. Part of a broader strategic foresight initiative, this presentation reviews emerging trends related to the rise of Salafi-jihadi insurgencies. Particular attention is devoted to the Islamic State vs. al-Qaeda rivalry, the Sinai insurgency in Egypt, and the threat of militant unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).

Michael Shkolnik is a Ph.D. Candidate at Carleton University Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. He recently served as senior adviser with the strategic foresight unit at the Department of Global Affairs Canada. Michael also worked with counterterrorism and international security institutes in Washington, D.C., Ottawa, and Israel.

The Memory of the Holocaust as a Creative Engine for Contemporary Israeli Art

The presentation will consider the recent art works of Israeli artists who relate to the memory of the Holocaust both from a personal-familial point of view and as a site for ongoing public discourse in Israeli-Jewish society.

Dr. Sigal Barkai is a researcher, educator and curator of contemporary Israeli art and Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies at Concordia University, Dr. Sigal Barkai has curated many exhibitions and written extensively about art and the socio-political history of Israel.

The launching of Le chant de Moïse/The Song of Moses by Seymour Mayne

Biblical poems, translated into French by Caroline Lavoie

Author and translator will offer readers and listeners a lively bilingual presentation, with creative readings drawn from the midrashic tradition of commentary.

Seymour Mayne is the author, editor, or translator of many books.  His latest collections include a selection of short fiction, The Old Blue Couch and Other Stories, and the personal anthology, In Your Words: Translations from the Yiddish and the Hebrew.  In addition, six collections of his poetry have been rendered into Hebrew, including his selected poems, Fly Off into the Strongest Light  [Leensok letoch haor hachi chazak: Mevchar shirim] and Ricochet: Word Sonnets  Ricochet: Sonetot Milah].  He serves as Professor of Canadian Literature, Canadian Studies, and Creative Writing at the University of Ottawa.

Caroline Lavoie worked in international development in Haiti, Ethiopia and Egypt before returning to her true passion, literature. She has translated novels, short stories and essays, including Joe Clark’s How We Lead and Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle. Seymour Mayne’s The Song of Moses is her first poetry translation. Copies of the collection Le Chant de Moïse /The Song of Moses, published by the Montreal firm Mémoire d’encrier, will be available for sale.

Solomon’s Paradox – Wisdom and how to get it

Experiments and observations of daily behaviour demonstrate that individual’s level of wisdom varies dramatically from one situation to another. I discuss how these insights led to a revision of the wisdom concept, paving path to evidence-based interventions promoting greater wisdom.

Igor Grossmann is a behavioral scientist exploring the role of culture and social context for wise judgments, using big data, physiology, diary surveys, and experiments. He received his PhD in Psychology at the University of Michigan and currently is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Waterloo.

The 6 Hour Jew, the 3 Hour Jew and the One Hour Jew: How long do we wait between meat and milk, and why?  Or Why do Dutch Jews only wait an hour to have an ice cream after a steak?

An examination of the classical sources that explain the different traditions in Jewish Law regarding the waiting time between eating meat and milk. The sources have  been translated into English.  This course will be studied live online from Israel.

Rabbi Ely Braun is the former Rabbi of Congregation Beth Shalom. He has taught at the Melton Program, St. Paul and Carleton Universities.  Rabbi and Sheli Braun made Aliyah in 2015 and reside in Afula, Israel.  Rabbi Braun is a Registered Psychotherapist and Chartered Mediator working online through the Gishur Center.

My Tanzanian Tikkun Olam Experience

A personal reflection from Neilah Shapiro about her travels to Tanzania with the youth social action movement called Me to We when she was just 15 years old in the summer of 2016.

Neilah Shapiro is in grade eleven at Sir Robert Borden High school in Ottawa.  She loves travelling to new places and spending quality time with her friends and family. Recently awarded The Grossmann-Klein Teen Leadership Award for dedicated community service.

Building Empathy and Compassion for Self and Others: An Introduction to Compassionate Listening

Participants will be introduced to the concepts required for developing the capacity to listen to others with compassion. Related terminology will be discussed, and participants will be encouraged to complete a short practice. Please come with an open heart.

Anna -Sofia Marantha is a spiritual healer and leader who serves others as an advocate, coach, counsellor, rabbi and kohenet  (Hebrew Priestess). She has extensive training in various communication skills including non-violent communication; facilitation and meditation (Third Party Neutral); compassionate listening; as well as chaplaincy and pastoral care.  [She loves beauty, quiet contemplation, coffee, chocolate, reading, late summer evenings, and brightly coloured Post It notes.]

Routine Pharmacological Procedures against Women in Auschwitz: An Unspoken Narrative

The history of routine medical interventions affecting women’s fertility during the Shoah and thereafter has been hidden in plain sight. It is past time to assemble the fragments of this unrecognized phenomenon and begin to give expression to a cohesive narrative.

Peggy J. Kleinplatz, Ph.D. is Professor of Medicine, Clinical Professor of Psychology and Director of Sex and Couples Therapy Training at the University of Ottawa. In 2015, she received the AASECT Professional Standard of Excellence Award for teaching, research and clinical practice.

Popular Jewish Food Allergies

Did you know there are food-related issues more prevalent among Jews?  Come see, hear, and taste a wealth of information about how to navigate a healthy diet despite allergies and illnesses.

Lisa Bogdonov is a maven on the hard-to-feed.  Her own struggle with obesity, a child with life-threatening food allergies, and parents with an assortment of cancers have given Lisa a proficiency in healing diets.  Coordinating Ottawa’s Kosher Meals on Wheels program for many years and operating a food-related consulting service for people with dietary challenges have added to Lisa’s expertise.

Pesach Delicious

A passion of Bassy’s, growing up in a family of 12, has always been gourmet Kosher cooking.  She is pleased to present all original Passover recipe Demo for beginners or experienced chefs.  Delicious and tasty new dishes that will delight your Seder table.

Bassie Mendelsohn is a mom of 7 beautiful children from ages 2-15 and is the Rebbetzin at Chabad of Centrepointe. An Ottawa native, Bassy grew up in the Westboro area, and went to Ecole Maimonides followed by Chabad Girls High School & teachers college in Montreal. After a year of teaching and community outreach in Walnut Creek, California, she met rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn from Miami Beach and they settled in Ottawa. A year later they opened Chabad of Centrepointe, an outreach community centre offering many wonderful programs and services including lectures and classes, holidays events, shabbat meals, a teen volunteer program and much love and care to the community.

Horah  Bootcamp!

Whether you’ve been dancing all your life or never tried it before, join us for a toe tapping fun – Israeli style.  And BTW, there’s no such thing as two left feet!

Phil Kretzmer is a long time folk dancer who has lived and taught folk dancing in Ottawa for many years. Instructs easier introductory dances that should be accessible to newcomers, and fun for those that dance. We’re in excellent hands, not to mention feet


Rabbi Idan Scher earned an undergraduate degree from Yeshiva Shaar HaTorah in New York, a Master’s degree in Talmudic Law from the Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, and an M.A. in Public Policy and Management from Johns Hopkins University. He holds rabbinic ordination (semikha) from both Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, the director of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court and Rabbi Gredalya Schwartz, the director of the Beth Din of America. Rabbi Scher is the spiritual leader of Congregation Machzikei Hadas.

TBA-  Philanthropy Panel

Bram Bregman continues to enhance Jewish life in Ottawa by working with a talented team of professionals to strengthen local Jewish organizations and synagogues, Jewish education, the emerging generation, Hillel on Campus, Ottawa’s connection with Israel, Holocaust education and community building initiatives. Bram is known for his innovative thinking, professionalism, customer service, can-do attitude, passion for community, and welcoming personality.

 Holy Land Archaeology: Where the Past Meets the Present

Max and Tessie Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies/
Limmud Partnership Lecture

Archaeology is commonly understood as the study of human life in the past by analyzing the material remains of the past. But it is not usually recognized that the archaeological quest for the past is often shaped by the excavators’ present. Meyers will use four case studies to illustrate the intersection between the discoveries at ancient sites and the realities of the modern world.

Carol Meyers, the Mary Grace Wilson Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at Duke University, has lectured and published widely in several fields: biblical studies, archaeology, and gender in the biblical world. She has co-directed several of Duke’s archaeological projects in Galilee and has been a frequent consultant for media productions dealing with the biblical world. She has served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is currently a trustee of the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, and the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation.

The Charoset Project

Hailing from a long line of successful artists, Zahava Goldstein is a self-taught artist who was raised in the Judean Hills of The Holy Land. She works with a variety of media, including painting, ceramics, paper-cutting, jewelry design, and handmade felted crafts. She creates unique and colourful works of art, often with a Judaic theme. Her art is an exploration of her adventurous life and she enjoys putting her hands to the materials with which she expresses her feelings. Zahava’s work can be found in private art collections in the United States, Canada and abroad. She has illustrated two published children’s books and is currently working on a third. She is a mother of two amazing children and wife to her best friend. She is currently living and creating in Ottawa, Ontario.