Where light and darkness meet, let's begin Chanukah together in a community-wide gathering.

IGNITE! opens with an intergenerational, songful candle lighting, then breaks into a choose-your-own-adventure of arts-based workshops, performances and Jewish study sessions. Throughout the night, enjoy short concerts inspired by the season's themes, curated by the Ashkenaz Festival. Come early or late, stay a little or stay the whole time!

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Kosher food will be available for purchase.

The Family/Kid's Track admission provides access to the inter-generational communal candle-lighting at 6:00 p.m. and to a shorter program for families with kids ages 5 to 12, with a light kosher dinner included.


Adult and Teens Track - Suggested $20 per person (To register, click here>>)
Family Track - $30 per family of up to four people (To register, click here>>)

To view a printable Schedule of the evening's events, click here>>

To access the livestream, visit

We thank Sunflower Kitchen for providing the hummus and dips, and we thank DANI who are providing catering.

Community Programs

Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Communal Candle-Lighting

with Aviva Chernick, Cantor Sidney Ezer and Friends

Time: 6:00 to 6:25 p.m.
Location: Herman Hall

On Chanukah we light eight candles, one for each night of the holiday and for the growing miracle we celebrate. This year, we begin this sweet ritual in tenderness and togetherness, allowing the first candlelight to meet the communal grief we’ve all been holding, letting this first candlelight and darkness commingle for a moment as we shift into the spirit of the IGNITE festival. Join with Aviva Chernick, Cantor Sidney Ezer, and friends in this cross-communal, all-ages candlelighting and singalong as we warm the way forward, together.

Concert #1: Ma'ayan Band

Time: 6:30 to 6:50 p.m.
Location: Herman Hall

Formed in 2016, Ma’ayan Band is dedicated to preserving and revitalizing ancient Jewish traditional tunes, sung in multiple languages. Featuring musicians with Israeli and east European roots, they are driven by a shared passion for delivering a powerful message of unity and connection. In every note they play and every lyric they sing, Ma’ayan Band invites listeners on a journey that transcends time and space. Ma’ayan Band seeks to unlock the transformative power of music and the boundless possibilities that arise when disparate elements come together in perfect harmony. The quartet features Dina Levin (vocals, percussion), Alexey Reznik (guitar, oud), Dima Graziani (keyboard) and Ivan Dolgunov (violin).

Family Programs

Time: 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

The Miraculous Latke-Hamantash Debate

with Cantor Audrey Klein

Time: 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Locations: Herman Hall and then Reuben and Helene Dennis Museum


6:00 p.m. — Herman Hall

Join the communal candle-lighting in the Herman Hall and stay there for the  Ma'ayan Band’s concert.

7:00 p.m. — Reuben & Helene Dennis Museum
Head to the  Museum for a light dinner and activities with Cantor Audrey Klein and the Maker Stations

Potato pancake or triangular pastry? What's the better holiday treat? Inspired by the Great Latke-Hamantash debate from the University of Chicago, Cantor Audrey Klein will lead us in our own playful mock debate. Get ready to talk about the story of Chanukah, the meaning of miracles and oil, and your favourite symbolic foods. As in any good debate, we'll learn to listen deeply to each other and keep an open mind. And we'll even learn the great latke-hamantash debate song! Following the debate, kids can play in the Maker Stations, decorating holiday matchboxes and other crafts.

Cantor Audrey Klein
is the Director of Family & Young Adult Engagement at Beth Tzedec Congregation. She grew up in Shaker Heights, OH and studied Theatre at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Cantor Audrey worked in the performing arts, wedding, and events industries in Chicago before turning to the cantorate. She received her cantorial education and Master's degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew College in Newton Centre, MA. For the record, she is Team Hamantash. 

Maker Stations

After 8:00 p.m., drop in and out any time throughout IGNITE to make personalized gifts and other artistic creations. These stations are for teens and adults alike!

Making Matchbox Magic

with Lauren Schreiber Sasaki and the Miles Nadal JCC

Location: Reuben and Helene Dennis Museum

We're bringing Hiddur Mitzvah (the concept beautifying the mitzvah) to the humble matchbox. Join us as we transform plain old matchboxes into mini works of art, perfect for gifting (or keep them for yourselves, we won't judge). Unleash your inner artiste with a palette of paint or flex your creativity with collage. Decorate your matchbox with playful designs, and make a unique, heartfelt present to light up someone's Chanukah. All ages and abilities welcome! 

Rock of Ages: The Art of Rededicating from the Ruins

with F. Penina Hoffnung and Beth Tzedec Congregation

Location: Reuben and Helene Dennis Museum

Take inspiration from the natural world—the world of stone, sage, and candle oil—and rewild your Chanukah! Drop by Penina's magical maker station at any point in the evening to create cards or chanukiot using a combination of classic craft and found materials. Like the Maccabees before, we're struggling to rebuild from the rubble of war. Creative process can serve as a soft landing place in a season of tumult, and working with your hands can, like sage, soothe the soul and help bring us bring light and lightness back into our days.

F. Penina Hoffnung is a newly transplanted Philadelphian, Jewish educator, visual artist, upcycler and people gatherer. She is currently serving as the Family Engagement specialist at Beth Tzedec Congregation, ema to four bigs and savta to two littles. Lately she is obsessed with analog games, adjusting to life underground, trying to understand this black house phenomenon and why 50 percent of roads here start with “Glen”. She will learn to say “proh-cess” and “sooory” -seemingly about everything- if you will learn to say “jawn,” which can mean anything. 

Menorah Poet-Tree

Location: Beit Alpha Floor

Drop by the Poet-Tree to share in words of wisdom, grief, and hope. Inspired by the healing balm of the salvia palestina (of the sage family), hypothesized to be the visual inspiration for the original menorah, we’re tapping into the healing power of sage words and metaphors with poetic prescriptions for the heart, mind, and soul. Take a poem, leave a poem – or a fragment of your own, a word, a line, a whole poem – to brighten someone else’s Chanukah.

Shoresh's Chanukah Pop-Up Market

Time: 5:30 to 10:00 p.m.
Location: Kerzner Fellowship Hall

Experience the miracle of beeswax this Chanukah! Get your Beeswax Chanukah Candles and other beautiful, sustainable ritual items from Shoresh. Through nature-based Jewish education and sustainable products, Shoresh leads, inspires, and empowers our community to be Shomrei Adamah, protectors of the earth. Integrating awareness, action, and advocacy, Shoresh’s programs and social enterprise demonstrate that sustainability is a Jewish value and offer community members meaningful opportunities to be responsible stewards of the earth.  

First Session Choices for Adults and Teens

Time: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Latkes and Dreydls ... with a Yiddish Spin!

with Ruth Gerlock

Location: Room 105

Learn about the Yiddish origins of two Khanike traditions--the dreydl and latkes. Through stories, poems, songs and games, we will explore our rich Yiddish language and culture.

Ruth Gerlock grew up in a Yiddish-speaking home imbued with a love for the Yiddish language and culture. She has been teaching Yiddish for over 25 years and has led programs and classes ranging from infant to adult. She "sheps naches" hearing her students speak Yiddish.

The Menorah, from the Mishkan to the Knesset

with Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin and F. Penina Hoffnung

Location: Room 106

The menorah, or seven-branched candelabrum, is Judaism's oldest and most enduring symbol and the inspiration for your own favourite chanukiah. Through a combination of text study and hands-on creative work, we'll explore how this treasured symbol has illuminated Jewish spirituality from Moses to contemporary Israel, how it's been both text and object itself, and how it can hold your own relationship to the Jewish nation within its branches.

Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin, MSW, serves Beth Tzedec Congregation. 

F. Penina Hoffnung is a newly transplanted Philadelphian, Jewish educator, visual artist, upcycler and people gatherer. She is currently serving as the Family Engagement specialist at Beth Tzedec Congregation, ema to four bigs and savta to two littles. Lately she is obsessed with analog games, adjusting to life underground, trying to understand this black house phenomenon and why 50 percent of roads here start with “Glen”. She will learn to say “proh-cess” and “sooory” -seemingly about everything- if you will learn to say “jawn,” which can mean anything.  

Hide and Seek at Chanukah

with Ben Carniol

Location: Hurwich Board Room

Imagine a child hiding as Maccabeans confront the Greek tyrant who wants to erase Jewish practices. Ben Carniol's story offers us a profound way to connect with the Chanukah story through the lens of modern-day anti-semitism and hidden identity. As a hidden child in 1940s' Baudour, Ben learns to be a good Catholic boy amid the explosions of war and the frightening presence of German soldiers. Only years later, reunited with his aunt in Ottawa, Ben reclaims his Jewish identity and begins a lifelong journey toward personal and societal healing, becoming a social worker and working in the fields of social advocacy, social services and social work education in Cleveland, Montreal, Calgary and Toronto. Be inspired by Ben's story and his life's work, as he ties his own experiences to the story of Chanukah, "not by strength, not by wealth, but by the spirit of Hashem will we win." 

Ben Carniol was born in Teplitz-Schönau (Teplice-Šanov), Czechoslovakia (now Teplice, Czech Republic), in 1937 and moved with his parents to Brussels, Belgium, in 1939. He immigrated to Canada as an orphan in 1947 and was adopted by his mother’s family in Ottawa. Ben became a social worker and worked in the fields of social advocacy, social services and social work education in Cleveland, Montreal, Calgary and Toronto. He authored the seminal book Case Critical: Social Services and Social Justice in Canada. Ben is professor emeritus at Toronto Metropolitan University, was scholar-in-residence at Laurier University’s Indigenous Field of Study social work program and was awarded an honorary life membership for distinguished contributions to social work education in Canada by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education. He and his wife, Rhona, live in Toronto. 

Zumbanukah: Lights and Movements

with Fábio Sena

Location: Kimel Family Gym

Connecting the Lights of Chanukah to the vibrant moves of Zumba, this workshop will engage the participants in a sequence of brief choreographies and short dances. The groove of the Latino Brazilian -style music adjusted to some of our Chanukah songs will bring the house down with rhythm, energy and dance. The workshop opens with a clip of Sena’s appearance in the documentary, Periphery. No experience is required. Just come, dance and have fun.

Fábio Sena is a black Jewish Brazilian artist who made a career at Teatro Guaíra Ballet Company in Curitiba. Moving to Rio, he directed the P-24 Dance Company addressing LGBTQIA+ topics. In that city, he dedicated himself to teaching at the Angel Vianna Dance College and at the Nós da Dança Arts Centre. Fabio moved to Canada in 2019 and lives in Toronto, where he is restructuring his career as a dancer and choreographer. He also participated in an important initiative dancing and telling his journey in the documentary Periphery, created by the group No Silence on Race.

Lessons From The Maccabees: Understanding Rabbinic Discomfort With War 
with Rabbi Louis Sachs

Location: Orenstein Mezzanine Hall

This session will dive into the story and history of Chanukah to look at how the meaning of this holiday evolved. The conscious shift in focus by the rabbis of old can help offer us a framework for battling religious extremism and fanaticism in our world today. We will look at both Jewish and non-Jewish sources to help spark a group conversation on this important topic. 

Louis J. Sachs serves as the rabbi of Toronto's Beth Torah Congregation, known for his engaging teachings and active community involvement. He is the President of the Ontario Rabbinical Assembly and a board member of the Christian Jewish Dialogue of Toronto. With a degree in Religious Studies from UC Davis and training from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Rabbi Sachs has a keen interest in philosophy and the intersection of technology and Jewish law. He was twice voted 'America's Cutest Rabbi' by his mother, though not in consecutive years. 

Sharing Songs of Peace and Light: A Kumzitz to Revive the Soul

with Cantor C. Wunch and Shira Bodnar

Location: Hendeles Chapel

A kumzitz is a traditional Jewish gathering where we share songs and sing together. Please bring your instruments, your voices, and your songs of peace and light. Everyone will have a chance to teach or lead a song of their choosing, and we will fill our hearts with music. 

Cantor Wunch grew up in Toronto and earned her bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and Classics from Queen’s University. She continued on to study Child and Youth Work at Humber College, and earned her Cantorial Ordination and master’s degree from the Hebrew Union College in 2011. She has since served congregations in the US, the UK and Canada. Before attending seminary, she worked in classrooms, youth shelters, and group homes advocating for children and teens with a variety of educational, developmental, and behavioural needs, and for women who have suffered abuse. Cantor Wunch has been the Spiritual Leader of Congregation Shir Libeynu since 2021. 

Shira Bodnar (they/she) believes that art and curiosity are fundamental tools for creating strong, compassionate communities. A recent graduate from the Honours Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance program at Sheridan College, they are deeply curious about what it means to grow and honour all kinds of wisdom in an ever-changing world. Music has always been an integral part of Shira’s life, and she is spending much of her practice these days integrating her connections to music with her connections to prayer. Lately for fun, Shira has been enjoying learning to play the cello and dulcimer, being in community, and learning new soup recipes!

Snack Break with DANI

Time: 8:00 to 8:20 p.m.
Location: Herman Hall

Concert #2: Neshamayim

Time: 8:20 to 8:40 p.m.
Location: Herman Hall

Singer/composer Aviva Rajsky and guitarist/composer Tom Bellman started playing music together in church. Well, actually, in synagogue. And they still do, at Congregation Habonim of Toronto, which has some of the most unconventional and inspired music accompanying its services. But they also make their own music, ranging into jazz, R&B and country/roots. For IGNITE! they have formed a new, expanded ensemble to present a set of original songs rooted in Jewish texts and prayers but shaped by their eclectic musical aesthetic. They will be joined by Jim Gelcer (percussion), Neil Gardiner (keys), and Jesse Visser (bass).

Second Session Choices for Adults and Teens

Time: 8:45 to 9:45 p.m.

Miracles in the Dark: Hassidic Text Study

with Rabbi Samuel Kaye

Location: Room 105

Join Rabbi Samuel Kaye for an intimate deep dive into the teaching of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdetchiv. We will examine different models of miracles and what makes the miracles of Chanukah unique and sacred. Texts provided in English and Hebrew.

Rabbi Samuel Kaye is the associate Rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple. He is a Pardesnick (year program 2012) and the proud culinary co-creator of "Latke Poutine." His favourite night of Chanukah is the 4th. Reach him at  

Asher Yatzar: On Forming and Being Formed

with Yacov Fruchter and Matt Sniderman

Location: Room 106

Led by potter Matthew Sniderman and Beth Tzedec spiritual leader Yacov Fruchter, RP, we will use our hands to form candle holders while we explore texts that focus on creation, malleability and how we can use our power to shape a better world. 

Matthew Sniderman is a potter and educator.

Yacov Fruchter is a registered psychotherapist and serves as Director of Spiritual Engagement and Community Building at Beth Tzedec Congregation. 

The Poetic Practice of Rededication

with Alisha Kaplan

Location: Sanctuary

How is creative practice an act of rededication? What are its challenges and possibilities? Join poet Alisha Kaplan for a gentle study of poems that resonate with the Chanukah season, starting with her own work from her beautiful book, Qorbanot: Offerings, which explores the act of offering, through writing as ritual. Come enter a world of ink, spice, and smoke, where the quiet of winter offers us the sacred space to dream. As we approach the inner sanctum of hibernation season that begins with Chanukah, let’s slow down and take note of its scents, sounds, and metaphors, discovering and rededicating ourselves to our practices.

Alisha Kaplan is a poet, educator, and practitioner of narrative medicine. Using the arts, she works with health professionals and patients to reinvigorate medicine with care and humanity. Alisha has an MFA in Poetry from New York University and a Master of Science in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University. Her debut collection of poems, Qorbanot: Offerings, a collaboration with artist Tobi Kahn, won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award from the League of Canadian Poets. Her writing has appeared in Lilith, PRISM International, Carousel, Fence, The New Quarterly, and elsewhere. Alisha splits her time between Toronto and Bela Farm.

High Stakes Dreidl: An Economic Injustice Game with Mazon Canada

with Izzy Waxman and Grant Goodman

Location: Kimel Family Gym

Learn about poverty and economic injustice in Ontario through an interactive dreidel-based game of chance with Mazon Canada, the Jewish Response to Hunger. Spin the dreidel and explore how our health and wealth are determined by structures and conditions beyond our control, and about the realities facing low-income Ontarians as they struggle to navigate our patchwork poverty relief system of complex welfare supports, full shelters, and food bank wait-lists. 

Izzy Waxman and Grant Goodman are the leadership team at Mazon Canada, the Jewish Response to Hunger. Mazon is a community foundation that, on behalf of the Jewish community, supports a network of 300 food aid projects across the country with grants to sustain and improve their programs -including food banks, shelters, school meal programs, community gardens, Indigenous food sovereignty programs, and more. Mazon also educates and advocates towards an end to food insecurity in Canada. Grant and Izzy facilitate, teach, lecture, and moderate panels together and separately on issues of food insecurity, poverty, policy, Jewish history and Jewish ethics.

Then and Now: Rabbis Reflect on their Younger Selves and Look to the Future

with Rabbi Ed Elkin and Rabbi Elyse Goldstein

Location: Hurwich Board Room

Two veteran Toronto congregational rabbis (one ordained in 1983, one in 1990) will share excerpts from a sermon that they delivered early in their careers, and reflect on what they were preaching about, thinking about, and talking about then. They will consider -- how have times changed in the decades since? How have their priorities changed? What should the next generation of rabbis be preaching about, thinking about, talking about? 

Rabbi Edward Elkin has been the spiritual leader of the traditional-egalitarian First Narayever Congregation since the year 2000. 

Rabbi Elyse Goldstein is known throughout Canada as an outstanding educator. She founded Kolel: The Adult Centre for Liberal Jewish Learning in 1991, and became the founding rabbi of City Shul in 2010. 

Songs and Psalms of Courage

with Rabbi Yael Splansky and Aviva Chernick

Location: Hendeles Chapel

Singing can bring so much comfort. What are the songs that reach us now, awakening a sense of comfort and also of courage in this moment? What are the words and the melodies that allow us to sing out in full voice? Turning to Psalms and our liturgy for inspiration, Rabbi Yael Splansky and Beth Tzedec Spiritual Leader and Artist in Residence, Aviva Chernick, guide us through the Torah and the music of some of the gems of our Jewish treasure trove. No previous singing experience required in order to participate. All Hebrew will be accompanied by transliteration and translation. 

Aviva Chernick is a musician, prayer leader and facilitator of meditation, and vocal training. She is the founder and leader of neySHEV Jewish Mindfulness Community, the band leader of Aviva Chernick and La Serena Quartet, and one of the Spiritual Leaders, as well as Artist in Residence, at Beth Tzedec Congregation. Aviva has a small but fierce Chihuahua named Luz Libi and dances in her spare time.

Yael Splansky is the Senior Rabbi of Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto’s first synagogue. Rabbi Splansky currently serves as President of the Toronto Board of Rabbis, on the Beit Din of the Reform Rabbis of Greater Toronto, and on the President’s Rabbinic Council of HUC-JIR. She is a Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute and editor of Siddur Pirchei Kodesh. Rabbi Splansky was recently recognized by Canadian Parliament with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Award for her commitment to refugee relief, support and advocacy for the unhoused, and building bridges among faith communities. Together with Adam Sol, she raises three mensches. 

From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Dilemmas: Navigating Miracles and Moral Choices in Jewish Medical Ethics

with Dr. Yoelit Lipinsky

Location: Orenstein Mezzanine Hall

In this interactive session, we will embark on a journey from ancient wisdom to modern dilemmas, exploring the profound intersection of Jewish ethics and the ever-evolving field of medicine. Delving into the rich tapestry of Jewish tradition, we will unravel the ethical dimensions of medical miracles, shedding light on the moral choices faced by healthcare professionals and patients alike. Drawing inspiration from the miraculous events of Chanukah, we will examine how ancient teachings guide us in navigating complex bioethical challenges in the present day. 

Dr. Yoelit Lipinsky is an engaging speaker and teacher, especially known for her expertise in Jewish bioethics. With a PhD in Healthcare Ethics from Duquesne University, her research focused on Catholic and Jewish bioethics. She holds an MA and MPA, and her contributions as an MITACS post-doctoral Fellow for BC Children's Hospital include creating the first-ever pediatric consent app. As a former clinical ethicist at Providence Healthcare in Vancouver, she gained valuable experience in real-time ethical decision-making. Currently serving as the Data Ethicist at TELUS, Dr. Lipinsky ensures ethical practices throughout the company. Dr. Lipinsky hopes that her talks provoke thought and inspire meaningful discussions.

Snack Break 

Time: 9:45 to 10:10 p.m.
Location: Mezzanine Rotunda

Concert #3: Collected Stories Project

Time: 10:10 to 10:30 p.m.
Location: Herman Hall

The internationally acclaimed duo of Martin van de Ven and Brian Katz brings together a variety of musical traditions and influences informed by the diversity within the Klezmer music world and by their own rich musical backgrounds. Jazz, Classical, New Music, Bulgarian, Middle-Eastern and African influences are integrated in ways that extend tradition and generate new musical understandings that speak to our time. Their performances, featuring clarinet with guitar and piano, combine original compositions, Klezmer classics, new nigunim and multiple other influences into a singular sound that has received an enthusiastic critical response.

Third Session Choices for Adults and Teens

Time: 10:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Charcoal Oracle: Secrets of the Hebrew Letters

with Aaron Rotenberg

Location: Room 106

The month of Kislev is a time of teasing apart dreams and uncovering the Torah/teachings of winter. In this exploratory art-workshop, participants will draw one of the 22 Hebrew letters, learn associated secret meanings from the mystical Sefer Ytzirah/Book of Creation and create an art piece that will help reveal creative avenues and possibilities for this tekufah/seasonal cycle. Inspired by sacred fire and sacred darkness, participants will actively engage teachings of the Torah revealed as black fire on white fire, and will have the opportunity to create calligraphic drawings using home-made charcoal sticks made from wild grape vines from Aaron's yard. 

Aaron Rotenberg, among his many leadership endeavours, is the Spiritual Leader of Annex Shul and a rabbinical student at ALEPH, where he is also completing an Earth-Based Judaism Certificate Program. He spends his summers as an educator at Heart to Heart, a society-building summer camp program for Jewish and Palestinian teens. 

Make 'Em Laugh: A Pop Parody Writing Workshop

with Cantor Sidney Ezer and Esther Arbeid

Location: Orenstein Mezzanine Hall

From "Bohemian Chanukah" to the "Hamilton Chanukah," we've all seen the viral videos that light up our Chanukah nights, making our families and friends laugh to pop parodies about Maccabees, dreidels, gelt, and fried foods. These playful songs also often tap into our core values, memories of holidays past, and Jewish pride -- gifts that we can share with our loved ones this holiday. With the expert guidance of Cantor Ezer and Esther Arbeid, both well practiced in the parodic arts, this workshop will give you a chance to study what makes a great Chanukah pop parody and will get you writing your own to take home.

Born and raised in Toronto and as a member of Beth Tzedec Congregation, Cantor Sidney Ezer is privileged to now serve as H̱azzan. Having an Ashkenazi as well as an Iraqi Jewish background, he has striven to study and share the beauty of various Jewish musical traditions with others. Cantor Sidney also enjoys musical theatre and often performed in amateur productions writing post-show parodies based on the cast’s experiences. He continues this hobby at Beth Tzedec, penning parodies on request for certain shul events or for Chanukah and Purim. He currently is part of the close harmony quartet “The Wizards of Ashkenaz,” formed with three of his fellow graduates from the Jewish Theological Seminary. 

As the Director of Community Programming at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, Esther Arbeid oversees a myriad of Jewish/interfaith/LGBTQ/Access & Inclusion and other cultural programs including ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto. Esther believes the Arts are a lifeline to community and she is humbled by the vast network of volunteers, partners and a talented colleagues that bring these programs to fruition. Outside of the J, Esther can be found cycling around the city, singing in a rock choir, and spending time with her family including the newest member, her pandemic puppy, Sally.

The Queer Miraculous

with Carmel Tanaka, Gil Segev and Emunah Woolf

Location: Hurwich Board Room

Inspired by Hanukkah Hotties (Season 1, Season 2, Season 3), join JQT Vancouver’s Carmel Tanaka, LGBTQ at the J’s Emunah Woolf, and Toronto’s very own cross stitching, cross dressing Jewish American Princess, Gila Münster, for a special coast-to-coast hour of IGNITE - The Queer Miraculous!Cozy up with a hot bevvy and join us for a west-coast candle lighting with these three J-Cuties as they dive into how they each light up their respective parts of the world by queering Jewish space and Jewifying queer space.

Gil Segev (he/him) is an Israeli-Canadian queer Jewish activist, artist, and attorney in training. He is best known for his drag persona, Gila Münster (she/her), who has performed, since 2019, on and off stages, bringing drag into unconventional venues such as libraries, schools, community centres, lecture halls, unions, workplaces, retirement homes, hospitals, and more. Gila is the first drag performer approved as a vendor and partner for the Toronto District School Board, and has been the preferred  "Drag Queen Story Time" partner of the Toronto Public Library since 2022, including marching with them in the Toronto Pride Parade to protest censorship. Gila is the recipient of the 2023 Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts Creative Maverick Award for her work in using arts to promote the working people. Gila is also the founder and host of the annual "8 Gays of Channukah Queer Jewish Variety Show," the biggest event in the queer Jewish calendar in Toronto, raising funds for Machane Lev (queer Jewish summer camp) while showcasing queer Jewish artists. Outside of drag, Gil is a J.D. candidate at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, and enjoys spending his (admittedly short) free time stitching and napping.

Carmel Tanaka (she/her) is a queer, neurodivergent, Jewpanese woman of colour, who has founded: JQT Vancouver (a Jewish queer and trans nonprofit–soon-to-be charity!), the Cross Cultural Walking Tours, and the Jewpanese Project. Follow her work on Facebook/Instagram: @JQTVan, 
@CrossCulturalTours, @JewpaneseProject 

Emunah Woolf (they/them) is many things, including a community builder, artist, learner, educator, writer, and accessibility consultant. They are passionate about co-creating and sustaining accessible spaces for communities they belong to including queer, Jewish, Sephardic, disabled, and neurodivergent communities, and especially the various intersections of these identities and experiences. Emunah’s art is a tool towards activism, connection, and community and it has been featured in zines, the 5784 Radical Jewish Calendar, and their harm reduction focused colouring book. Currently they split their time between their work at LGBTQ+ at the J, their MSW at McMaster University, fitting in time for artwork, and taking care of their pet lizard, Larry.

Spread the Light, Spread the Warmth: A Blanket Tying Workshop

with the Danforth Jewish Circle

Location: Hendeles Chapel

In this hands-on workshop, we will create unique, hand-tied blankets with applique that will be given directly to those in need through our friends at Ve’ahavta. No sewing experience required! While working together, we will discuss the Jewish imperative to ensure that everyone in our community is cared for this winter. Let’s bring warmth to the cold while igniting a light in our souls.

Snack Break 

Time: 11:30 to 11:45 p.m.
Location: Mezzanine Rotunda

Fourth Session Choices for Adults and Teens

Time: 11:45 p.m. to 12:45 a.m.

Singing in the Dark

with Rabbi Aaron Levy

Location: Herman Hall

Let’s spend this late hour of the night immersed in beautiful and powerful nigunim—wordless melodies—in a dark room. We’ll sing together and allow the notes to linger in the silence after we sing. Inspired by an Izhbitz Hasidic custom for Shabbat afternoon, as practiced by the Yakar community in Jerusalem, there will be no speaking during this singing session. Everyone is welcome! You don’t need to know any tunes; you’ll learn them through repetition. 

Rabbi Aaron Levy is the founder and spiritual leader of Makom: Creative Downtown Judaism, a diverse and inclusive community fusing Jewish tradition and progressive values through spirituality, learning and culture since 2009. Ordained by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School, he is also an avid drummer, hiker, cyclist and vegan. 

Lighting the Way Home: Candlelight for the Last Market Traffic

with Sharoni Sibony and Maxine Lee Ewaschuk

Location: Hurwich Board Room

On Chanukah, we kindle increasing sparks of light, setting candles in our windows to proclaim God's miracles to our neighbourhood. But who kindles for the kindle-sellers? Looking at the curious case of the people of Talmudic Tadmor and the halachot of Chanukah candle-lighting, we'll spark our creative process about the ethical dimensions of Chanukah halachot, and we'll deepen into creative reflection with hands-on art-making. 

Maxine Lee Ewaschuk studies Jewish Studies, History, and Philosophy at the University of Toronto and teaches at Makom Creative Downtown Judaism’s after school program and UofT Hillel. She has been involved with the Periphery film project by No Silence on Race and the Ontario Jewish Archives. Her last summers have been spent learning full time in batei midrash such as the Center for Modern Torah Leadership and Drisha Institute of Jewish Education. She is also a former ballet dancer and practices fibre and other visual arts. 

Sharoni Sibony is a community weaver and organizer, artist, and educator across multiple disciplines. She currently serves as the Adult Education Coordinator at Holy Blossom Temple, teaches adult B'Mitzvah programs for Secular Synagogue and UJPO/Morris Winchevsky School. She has been a lecturer, tour guide, pottery instructor, creativity facilitator, and book club leader in various venues. She trained as a creativity facilitator with the Jewish Studio Project and is also co-curator, with Aviva Chernick, on IGNITE. Sharoni and Maxine have had a rich chevruta in creative Jewish spaces including their 2021 fellowship in the ATIQ: Jewish Makers' Kollel.

Closing Circle

Time: 12:45 to 1:00 a.m.

Location: Beit Alpha Floor

Those who remain are invited to join in a closing circle before heading back out into the darkness. We’ll share a final melody and reflect on the sparks of creation that we discovered through IGNITE to carry each other home as we close out the festival.