Please join us for an inspiring and informative evening.
Hosted by DANI’s-Toronto
‒ Karla Berbrayer
This presentation is intended for families, educators, advocates, volunteers and agency personnel.
Introduced by Liz Pearl, Editor of Living Legacies – A Collection of Personal Narratives by Canadian Jewish Women (PK Press).
Karla Berbrayer has worked in arts management, event coordination, marketing, publicity, and production in Winnipeg and in New York. She is fluent in English, French, and Spanish and conversational in Hebrew. Ms. Berbrayer is the Founding Producer of the Music ‘N’ Mavens series at the Rady JCC in Winnipeg, which shehas helmed for over twenty years. She is also Founding Producer of the Israeli Concert Series and Music Producer for Tarbut: Festival of Jewish Culture at the Rady JCC.
Karla toured and performed throughout Europe, United States and Canada with Up With People, an international musical production whose mission is to bridge cultural barriers and create global understanding. She is an invited member of the New Jewish Culture Network (NJCN), the only network in North America dedicated to supporting the advancement of Jewish music and performing arts.
Karla is the Past President of the Jewish National Fund Manitoba branch, after having held the position of President for four years. Karla was Vice President of the Board of Community Respite Services, Manitoba, and sat on the Special Needs Steering Committee of Winnipeg’s Jewish Federation. She is presently a Board Member of the Winnipeg Theatre Awards.
Ms. Berbrayer is married, and a mother of four adult children. One of her children has special needs and is living in a Shalom Residences home in Winnipeg.
Liz Pearl, M.Ed, Educator, Facilitator, Editor and Blogger. Her interests include: Psychogeritarics, Expressive Arts Therapy, Legacy and Writing Workshops.Liz is the Creator of PK Press‒published collections of personal narrative writing, including mini-memoirs and legacy writing. PK Press includes seven published volumes of the Living Legacies Series. Liz has worked in the GTA in program design and implementation in long term care and in the community:specialized programs include: Creative Movement and Music, Stroke Recovery, Wellness, Caregiver Support, Move and Mingle, Mini-Memoir and Legacy Writing. Currently, Liz is adjusting to the empty nest stage, as well as developing a succinct blog for her Pearls of Wisdom.
Thursday May 2, 2019: 7:30-9:00 pm @ the DANI Centre / refreshments served
DANI’s ‒ 6th Annual Art Show is coming soon. The upcoming evening promises to be fun-filled and colourful; this year’s theme is inspired by the CIRCUS.
Creative / expressive arts activities are a wonderful opportunity (recreational, educational, and at times, therapeutic) for all ages and all abilities. Let’s unleash the healing power of creativity.
Please join the fun and excitement: an exhibition of beautiful art created by the DANI participants, a live auction, concession stands, lively DJ music, and of course, DANI’s Delights–delicious treats.
The evening promises, as always, to be a feast for the senses: a magnificent mosaic of sights and sounds and tastes.
Everyone loves the circus! Clowns, animals, balloons and my favourite snack: salty and sweet popcorn! Save the date and stay-tuned! Tuesday, April 2nd, at 7PM
From PK Press 2018 files: “DANI’s 5th Annual Art Show – A Night at the Movies ‒it just keeps getting bigger and better. A great evening of innovative multi-media hand-made art and glitzy VIP red carpet fun ‒ Night at the Movies – DANI- Toronto – on Tuesday March 20th, 2018. Delicious food and a caring community of smiling participants, passionate staff, dedicated volunteers and loving families. And the Oscar goes to…Anna Gruzman and her incredible team of staff and volunteers.”
Last year we were all wowed by the bold mixed-media superheroes-themed mural, adorned with reflective mirrors and a collage of our favourite comic book superheroes. “Superheroes in the Mirror”– artistic creation reminds all of us to look at ourselves and see the unique beauty within each of us; we are super heroes, indeed! What awesome masterpieces await us this year?
All of the proceeds from this annual special event will be directed towards the ongoing inclusive arts programs at DANI’s, including DANI’s Fine Lines–the DANI Art Social Enterprise.
Please check back soon for highlights and photographs from this dynamic evening, showcasing creativity and innovation at the DANI- Toronto community.
So much detail…the staff and participants are busy putting on some finishing touches for the big night!
It was a pleasure learning more about Avrum—the blossoming artist, including his artistic vision, passion, inspiration, style and technique. Definitely, Avrum’s art is soulful, full of bold colours and rich textures. I think it’s safe to say, the future for Avrum’s art is bright and promising. There is so much to explore vis a vis Avrum’s art: the intersections of art and Judaism, art and natural beauty, and art and social justice. I look forward to Avrum’s continued artistic expression via painting or possibly other creative media.
My first real piece of art was created when I
was five years old in kindergarten at Shepherd Public School. I painted a Bobby‒an English policeman. Ms.
Baynan, my teacher, announced to the class what a fine artist I was. I was kvelling.
But I didn’t pursue art until 1995, when I was 35 years old. It was then I
decided to buy three canvasses, acrylic paint and brushes, this after purchasing
a 3-D plastic fruit composition on a cardboard backing and framed.
I set about painting my first three
paintings, of countryside scenes.
Each one seemed to get progressively better and looking back I am surprised at
my intuitive ability to create shadows and understand light. I guess I would say that was an ‘aha’ moment.
After those three, I stopped painting until 2000. It was then I dove into my new hobby,
painting. Since then I’ve produced 10-20 paintings a year.
I paint so that I can create a true reflection of what I see as possible, otherwise described as pursuing truth. My impetus for painting is to make something as beautiful and joyful as possible as did Rembrandt, so those who view it might recognize the beauty, hence the Godliness of the world we share. If I can enhance someone else’s life through my art that gives me great satisfaction.
I have memories of my mother (Gitel Rosensweig z”l) taking my siblings and me to the Art Gallery of Ontario. My parents had copies of classics hanging in our house such as Monet, Van Gough and some Judaica. Yeshiva was/is basically void of art‒the concept being we should not create something in God’s image. Perhaps that has changed.
There always seems to be a disconnect between
art andJudaism possibly because of Torah edict not to create something in
the image of God. But since the establishment of Israel we have been
witness to many incredibly creative artists like Agam and Rubin. Israeli art
has gone past the traditional picture of rabbis and Yeshiva Bochurim and now
reflect bold colours and depictions of many aspects of the Jewish people and
our history. I try, when I can to include a Magen David on the walls of the
villages I paint and over time have
Ve’ahavta is a creative environment. We have held innovative art shows over the years, created by those living on or near the street. That has been a fascinating journey and reflective of some outstanding art.
I have seen some very compelling art linked to social activism in my time. One such example that comes to mind is penitentiary art done by a lifer, Peter, who killed a policeman. His art was dark and reflected the torturous existence inside those walls and behind the barbed wire. This always stuck with me. There is a plethora of examples of art connected to social activism, including graffiti and street art. Art, I would argue, has brought change to our world, sometimes positive and other times negative.
I have been told by an art teacher a number of years ago, I am a Fauvist. Fauvism is defined: (literal definition: wild beasts) – “Works that emphasized…strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism.” -Wikipedia. Henri Matisse was a Fauvist.
Over time, some images have really moved me and compelled me to paint them. I never quite know where I might be inspired. I paint a lot of villages generally surrounded by lush gardens and/or fields, landscapes and frequently water and waves. I believe, in my head, that is where I live.
Over the years I have painted a few hundred pieces, the vast majority which I have stored in my locker. I have given a few away to family and friends but mostly I’ve always felt I wanted to enjoy my art. Selling my art or giving too much of it away, would cause me to miss my pieces too much. So I keep them.
I’ve painted my fair share of portraits. They all look sad however and strangely,
despite my pursuit of joy, I haven’t figured out how to paint a smile, only
grins. Perhaps some of my art reflects the melancholy nature from within me.
My themes and subjects have found their way
to canvasses organically, intuitively. I discovered early I love flowers, trees and
forests. One painting I did in the early 2000s, in perhaps a half an hour, was
a plant with leaves seeming to hang in the air, blow in the wind. When I looked
at it, I felt for a moment I’d figured out art. But then I set about painting
again and quickly realized there was much more to unearth.
I stare at the canvass for a lot longer than
I paint. A determination of one singular brush stroke
could take an hour or more to figure out. There have been times I’ll look at a
picture I’ve painted and cry. At those moments I’ve touched my own soul. For
some reason I have a knack for painting eyes, some grey and some green, with
much expression. Again, while I have practiced painting eyes ultimately
underlined as I am channeling something or someone when I create eyes.
For a while I would lay
dead roses down on a canvass and then drip liquid acrylic on them, and then put
down a coat of gloss. The affect is magnificent and my sister and brother-in-
law, who received one, commented on how it changes colour as the light shines
I have used acrylic paints, water paints and oils.
I love oils because of their depth of colour. I love my pallet knives as I feel more in control with them. My
art is highly textured. I just enjoy slapping oodles of paint on a canvass.
There is nothing greater than leaving my art room, staring at my picture from
afar and seeing it drenched in yellows, blues, greens and even blacks and
browns. I find this exciting. Much of my clothing has paint on it, even some
expensive Shabbat suits. Ugh. I once read; the way to know if you’re an artist
is by looking at your wardrobe and seeing if it is covered in paint.
Vincent van Gogh has inspired me more than
any other artist. I have been fascinated by
his choice of themes and subjects as examples, “The Potato Pickers” and enjoyed
My personal inspiration came one day in 1995. I walked into a pawn shop and saw a 1 foot x
1 1/2 foot piece with plastic fruits fixed into a canvass board. It was then I
decided to paint as I so admired the positioning of those plastic fruits. I am
deeply inspired by babbling brooks, and vineyards and cascading trees and
branches. I still have that picture. And I love it!
I adore my studio in my condominium. It is about twelve feet wide and 10’feet
long with eight foot ceilings. I have spent hours painting there, sipping on a
coffee and listening to music more times than I can remember. From paint
clothes to pajamas – and I’m good to go. Lately my studio has been getting
crowded with pictures and I need to pair the room down a bit so I can stretch
my creativity. Guests love the studio. It’s unusual, unique and beautiful.
I do not belong to a community of artists although I’ve read and written a tad, about
many artists. I’ve had a couple of teachers and I delight in having an artist
over to discuss art and critique my work.
Artists throughout history have frequently
been writers too. Once again Vincent kept
all his letters to his brother, Theo, communications that were literary in
nature, filled with love and passion. I think there is a correlation between
art and writing. I often sense it. While art is the pursuit of combining a
plethora of colours and shapes, writing is a bid to combine letters and words
to create some sort of story or report. At the end of the daunting both are creative
constructions of sorts.
Mostly I don’t travel in artist circles and
am isolated when it comes to my art. I
surf the web a lot to find today’s best artists and enjoy going on YouTube and
witnessing the painting – from start to finish‒of a portrait, a waterscape or a
landscape. I have learned tremendous amounts about the use of colours,
materials, and really all aspect of art.
Over the years I have
painted a few hundred pieces, the vast majority which I have stored in my
locker. I have given a few away to family and friends but mostly I’ve always
felt I wanted to enjoy my art. Giving it up or selling it would cause me to
miss them too much.
I would like to do a few more art shows but am not sure if I would sell my pieces. I’m hoping I continue to learn more technique and develop a greater understanding of colour. I would like to produce more beautiful pieces and hopefully use them to enhance my life, my son’s and perhaps some people’s around me.
Look for Avrum on Facebook or Instagram for more glimpses of his creative art.
Avrum Rosensweig is the Founder & Ambassador of www.veahavta.org and a columnist at www.cjnews.com, and the host of his recently launched podcast series: Hat Radio—the show that schmoozes.
Liz Pearl is the Director of PK Press and a blogger at WordPress: Pearls of Wisdom.
New Year—New Chapter―”This is Us”…”Life itself” and “Home Alone”.
Liz Pearl @ PK Press
In January, during the flight across the pond to the UK I plugged in to the AC entertainment centre and quite randomly selected the 2018 released film (eh review) ‒ “Life, Itself”, starring Mandy Patinkin (a favourite of mine since “Yentl” and “Chicago Hope”), Annette Bening (also a fan-favourite) and a slew of other likable and relatable nice-looking characters. Actually, I had heard of this film as it was written and directed by Dan Fogelman‒the creator of the popular prime-time TV drama series ‒“This is Us”, which I have watched since the season premiere. The parallels are obvious.
This begs the question: why are we drawn to this particular series and newish family melodrama genre? I think perhaps because it touches that sweet spot hinging between made-for-TV and our reality. These flawsome characters are imperfectly real, beautiful and flawed, and they experience the usual ups and downs of real life—just like all of us. The characters feel love and pain and joy and gratitude and sorrow. Relationships are complex, feelings are ambiguous, and the show, like life, is colourful and multifaceted.
The writers tackle a broad scope of tough topics including: racism, stress, conflict, addiction, sobriety, aging, anxiety, depression, sickness, poverty, death, trauma, grief, unemployment, estrangement, infertility, adoption, and body image. These heated issues lend themselves to discussion and varied perspectives. I love the candor, and nuance–sprinkled with lots of laughs and celebrations of career, marriage, parenting, childhood and family life. All this played-out through the lens of ordinary people and everyday life. Life is in fact, bittersweet.
It’s not quite reality TV, but also not quite the traditional family drama of previous decades. I guess every generation reinvents the classic family drama or sitcom on TV and the big screen with new techniques and styles and trending motifs. This is certainly no Brady Bunch or Happy Days or Wonder Years. This is Us, or at least many of us, much of the time.
Back to the film‒“Life Itself” implementing the same creative film editing style as “This is Us”; the storyline jumps back and forth in time, (including many flashback scenes) spanning three generations and two continents. (Yes, popular/traditional family sagas have been around for ages.) This strategic screenwriting format allows us to call upon our own multigenerational experiences and intergenerational relationships as we sift through our (sometimes hazy) memories and explore our own personal narratives. The storyline illustrates the significance of the particular narrative perspective. And I am all about sharing our personal narratives and our family stories. We are reminded again and again, how in retrospect everything fits together albeit through twists and turns along the way. Looking forward however, rarely are we effectively able to predict the trajectory of our life story. (Real life does not offer flash-forward sequencing strategically utilized in screenwriting.) Often, we just don’t know what door will close or window might open as we turn around the next corner. Although we might imagine our future in one way, the unfolding journey is often unforeseeable. Hence, “Life, Itself” is the default navigational system in our serendipitous journey.
In recent years I have navigated the empty-nest stage and the concurrent revolving-door-years. Of course, each new stage with its own particular joys and challenges (previously documented in an earlier blog post).
Most recently, I entered a new unforeseen chapter. Home Alone?! (Definitely a classic family comedy film series.) My husband’s career took a turn demanding extensive overseas travel. It’s all very new and interesting. An unanticipated chapter with perks and adjustments required. Most of us have family histories of immigration and many of us have family stories straddling several countries or continents. This is us, and life itself. The intersections of who, what, where, when, and why, unfold as we continue on our journey.
Just like when I lived alone almost 30 years ago, on lazy evenings I sat on the couch watching prime time cable TV (ER, LA Law and Thirtysomething) with a cup of tea and a bowl of popcorn. Of course there are just a few tweaks in time: watching Netflix on my iPad with SkinnyPop (love the sweet and salty kettle corn) and some ridiculously priced brand-named herbal tea. Isn’t it amazing how the decades fly? I sit on my couch and think to myself: so, “This is Us”; and this is “Life, Itself”, and I wonder, when is everyone coming home? As much as I enjoy the addictive popcorn and soothing tea, I don’t love “Home Alone”.
The New Year is always a good opportunity to stretch out of our comfort zone. Reflect on the road behind us, check our internal navigation system and ponder the uncertain path ahead as we continue our journey of ‒“Life, Itself”.
“Yoga is a mirror to look at ourselves from within.” –B.K.S. Iyengar
“Real growth begins at the end of your comfort zone.” —Thomas Oppong
Liz Pearl @PK Press
It seems that yoga, meditation and mindfulness are taking over the world. Maybe not the entire world, but certainly social media and blogs and new aps are popping up every other day. It’s fair to say yoga is currently mainstream if not trendy. So I figured I’d make a concerted effort to include yoga and mindfulness into my wellness regime for 2019; after all, they’ve been around for ages.
I’ve had a firm belief and practice of stretching for decades, so I naively believed the transition to yoga would be relatively smooth. Of course being somewhat into health and wellness for as long as I can remember; I’ve actually tried yoga classes a few times over the years. I’d say I’ve dabbled in yoga but am certainly not a dedicated yogi. I have every reason to believe it’s valuable and productive, and yet I just haven’t gotten into it; either I get bored or distracted. I am not overly endowed with discipline and I’m not keen on following sequential directions. For 2019‒I resolved to rededicate myself to yoga and mindfulness, certainly all of the research point in that direction. I’m all about holistic practice and the Mind-Body-Soul connection.
I really appreciate the focus on stretch and strength, balance, stability, harmony, the emphasis on breathing and the many invigorating poses.
I can’t really get into the blocks, blankets, cushions, straps and all of the props and paraphernalia, they seem synthetic, somewhat unnatural and definitely consumer focused. I wonder, why does every fad need to be reinvented with name-brand marketing ad infinitum? I’m more of a back-to-basics type. I think a simple mat and towel are adequate for most workouts.
Sometimes the best part of yoga class is the refreshing beverage—water infused with cleansing lemon, ginger or mint. Or the Insta post.
I love the beauty and awe of the natural world. Sun, Moon. Earth. Mountains. Rivers. Lakes. Oceans. Valleys. Trees. Flowers. (The sacred Lotus flower is truly beautiful, and a wonderful visual image for yoga–symmetry and beauty and balance.) And I am inspired to strengthen and stretch my body in the glory of the natural elements. In fact, at times I suppose this is as close as I can get to a spirituality to call my own.
Like many of us, I love the slogans on the Lulu Lemon bags. These mantras are cliché and they continue to resonate: “friends are more important than money”, “creativity is maximized when you are living in the moment”, “breathe deeply”, “dance, sing, (floss) and travel” etcetera… They speak to me, as they speak to many of us. And yet, I still have a tough time on my yoga mat. (Yes, I purchased one at Costco’s). No uber specialized high end props, just the basics.
I love that yoga is inclusive. Yoga is for everyone: all genders, all ages and all abilities. Yoga is adaptive and accessible to a range of special needs. Yoga is suitable for singles, couples and families. Yoga is a healing practice and can be therapeutic for many physiological and psychological conditions. There are a plethora of techniques of all levels and styles. New yoga hybrids are emerging all the time. It’s a traditional practice with many contemporary twists. Yoga is constantly being reinvented.
My favourite pose is the Dancers Pose and I’m hoping to try to increase my current repertoire of basic yoga asana poses. Certainly I am intrigued and challenged by the variety and complexity of the more advanced poses.
On the mat we are guided along… Quieting my
mind and focusing on my breath alone sometimes my inner voice whispers: “this
is silly, go outside for a walk in the fresh air or the forest or ravine!” or
“watch the sunrise or sunset and strike a pose!”
But hey, it’s only the end of January so I’m not yet abandoning my resolution for 2019 to stretch out of my comfort zone and become an amateur yogi. I’m just not drawn to the mat‒yet. February is a new month; perhaps I will download a trending meditation app: Calm, Headspace, MINDBODY…I can’t help but wonder, do we really need apps and workshops and coaches to just slow down, breathe, and literally be in the moment? Or can we not just simply get back to basics: take a walk, breathe fresh air, enjoy a cup of calming chamomile tea and cherish the seasonal view outside the window.
It’s a new year, a new chapter, and the search for calming my inner voice and searching for Zen continue. In the meantime, I will continue the yoga-quest. For now, I think perhaps I am either a yogi-wannabe or, a Rogue Yogi.
Four Course, Five Star‒ Greek Dinner Experience Second Annual Culinary Delights‒From around the World
Featuring: Greek dinner
By Liz Pearl@ PK Press
All profits are directed toward programs for adults with disabilities. (Vegetarian or dairy, COR Cholov Yisroel) – DANI Toronto
Yet another intimate gathering of the DANI community: friends, family, volunteers, and staff‒joined together in good company, delicious food, and for a meaningful cause. Once again, thank you to everyone for making this lovely evening possible‒shout-out to the talented chef, event coordinator, staff, patrons and volunteers!
The evening was delightful from start to finish. Our dinner was impeccably prepared and beautifully served; a delicious Greek feast including authentic music and tastes. The café was transformed into a beautiful dining room decorated with bright white candles, exquisite deep blue silk linens, adorned tableware and fresh cut flowers. The evening offered the delightful sights, flavours, sounds and smells of a glorious Greek island. If only we could import the magnificent Mediterranean or Aegean Sea. For that, we must close our eyes and dream.
Four Course, Five Star traditional Greek menu included:
Starters: freshly baked Greek pita with traditional dips including tzaziki, marinated beets, chopped grilled peppers and feta cheese
Appetizers: flakey spanakopita and moist dolmades
Green lentil soup with mixed vegetables
Main course:grilled Branzino (whole) fish with assorted vegetables and roasted potatoes or vegetarian eggplant moussaka topped with rich béchamel sauce
Desserts: sweet loukoumades and smooth galaktoboureko
So much of our favourite food originates in Mediterranean countries, including, Greece. The fresh produce, herbs, and cheeses are blended into familiar recipes we savour, including savoury and sweet. Hints of: oregano, basil, parsley, dill, garlic, lemon, olive oil, pepper, mint and cinnamon.
Shout-out to Debra–our charming table hostess!
We enjoyed the traditional Greek music including instrumental and vocals performed by local musicians Kirakos Kakoulisis‒diverse in rhythm and melody, played on the handcrafted Bouzouki, and his partner on the acoustic guitar. It certainly makes for lively and engaging dinner music.
A wonderful evening of community, cuisine and ambiance was enjoyed by us all. Look for DANI-Toronto on Facebook and on Instagram.
“Our Gourmet dinner was prepared in the Dani Delights kitchen, by a chef trained in traditional Moroccan cuisine (vegetarian or dairy, COR Cholov Yisroel). All profits are directed toward programs for adults with disabilities.” – DANI-Toronto
An intimate gathering of the DANI community, including: friends, family, volunteers, donors and staff‒joined together in good company, delicious food, warm ambiance, and for a meaningful cause. Thank you to everyone for making this lovely evening possible. Kudos to the skilled gourmet chefs Anat and Orly, and the dedicated event coordinators.
The memorable evening was delightful from start to finish with great attention given to detail. Drinks served by Ash. Friendly welcome by Kathy (dressed in shiny white Moroccan Kaftan) and Susie.
Our candlelight dinner was impeccably prepared and beautifully served; a delicious Moroccan feast including authentic (Mizrachi) music by Eric The DJ King, multi-textured décor, and unique Sephardic flavours and aromas. The DANI café was transformed into a dim-lit dining room decorated with exquisite burgundy embroidered linen‒silks and satins, adorned tableware and enhanced golden draped window coverings. A colourful collection of Moroccan serving-ware including silver tea set and bright platters was displayed. The Hamsa (ancient protective amulet) added to the unique cultural design.
Four Course, Five Star menu included:
Frenha, Metbucha, Barba, Jaaluk, Khijo (salads),
Moroccan cigars with tahini,
Harira (vegetable soup),
Fish with couscous and chickpeas or a vegetarian Sheperd’s pie,
Save the best for last: Mufletta, sweet date roll cookie, and tahini cookie served with tea.
Moroccan delicacies are rich in spices and fresh herbs: lots of coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, salt and pepper with hints of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. The recipes include lots of colourful vegetables such as beets, carrots, tomatoes, peppers and olives. An interesting mix of flavours to be savored!
The magical mixture of Moroccan savory spices is known as Ras el Hanout (originating in North Africa).
My appetite was satiated and my interest in Morocco has been ignited. Certainly the sights, sounds, smells and tastes are enticing…
Stay-tuned for gourmet Indian and Mexican Dinners at DANI’s coming in 2019.
For more information about the Culinary Delights‒From around the World or other fundraising opportunities at DANI’s please visit DANI-Toronto.