Ashkenaz Festival Returns to Toronto

August 29, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
The Ashkenaz Parade attracts energetic attendees and exciting performers. The parade will take place on Monday, Sept. 3, at 4 p.m. (Courtesy of Harbourfront Centre)

TORONTO—The Ashkenaz Festival, the city’s largest Jewish heritage festival, is on now at Harbourfront until Sept. 3.

Toronto’s festivals are known for offering a rich display of the city’s diversity of cultures. Among these celebrations, the Ashkenaz Festival shines in its pageant of Yiddish and Jewish tradition, a feast of artistry and insight.

The festival delivers a worldly experience of music, theatre, film, visual arts, and literature. The program features home-bred talent alongside accomplished artists from countries around the world, including Israel, Argentina, Russia, Uganda, and more.

The parade on the last day of the festival is a favourite. Accodring to a Ashkenaz Festival news release, “The 2012 parade will be based on folkloric characters, superstitions, and stories from Jewish and Yiddish culture but with a radical new twist.”

One of this year’s highlights is the Canadian premiere of Leo Spellman’s Rhapsody 1939-45, a piece of music composed immediately following the Holocaust in a displaced persons’ camp. It was forgotten for 50 years before being recently rediscovered by the composer.

The piece, which details the horrors of the war, the sadness of loss, and the hope for a better tomorrow, will be performed Sept. 3 at Harbourfront Centre.

Spellman, now 99 years old, will be in the audience, and award-winning composer Paul Hoffert, who helped expand and record the piece, will conduct the orchestra.

For full festival programming, as well as to get a taste of the colourful diversity of the music, visit the festival’s website at

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