After a three-year break because of the COVID pandemic, the Bloor West Village Toronto Ukrainian Festival returned in full force this year. The festival’s three days, 16-18 September 2022, were filled with Ukrainian foods, arts, crafts, music, and dance. A regular stream of individuals interested in learning more about the Ukrainian-Jewish relationship visited the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter’s (UJE) now traditional booth. Many visitors expressed solidarity with Ukraine as the country bravely defends itself against Russia, which criminally invaded the country on 24 February 2022.
Yuliya Kovaliv, Ukraine’s new ambassador to Canada, and James Temerty, UJE’s board chairman, visited the UJE booth. UJE board members Paul Robert Magocsi and Ihor Shchupak also dropped in, as did Alexandra Chyczij, National President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC).
UJE this year was joined by Anna Zharova and Vyacheslav Feldman, co-founders of Israeli Friends of Ukraine (IFU), an Israel-based nonprofit organization working to support Ukraine since 2014. The two guests participated in the festival’s opening ceremonies on the main stage, along with representatives from other countries who support Ukraine and politicians and celebrities. Past and current festival marshals asked Zharova and Feldman to assist in cutting the ribbon to officially open the festival, which attracted over 900,000 visitors over three days.
Ukrainian singer Yana Oleksandrivna Shemaeva, known professionally as Jerry Heil, headlined this year’s festival. A wide array of singers and dancers representing Canada, Ukraine, Eastern European nations, plus several countries affected by war — prominently Georgia, Syria, and Columbia — also performed at the fair.
Photos courtesy of Natalia A. Feduschak and Israeli Friends of Ukraine.
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Ukrainians and Jews have lived as neighbours for centuries, creating and sharing enduring cultures that continue to inform their identities today. Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (UJE) is proud to present Part 1 of an integrated narrative of these two peoples in the belief that there is much to be gained by viewing their historical experience together, in all its complexity.
As Ukraine defends its very existence against Russia, the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter Timeline serves to counter the malicious and false narratives about Ukraine and its history. The Timeline demonstrates that Ukraine is home to diverse peoples and, for centuries, one of the world’s oldest and largest Jewish communities.
The 'Encounter' prize aims to build on the common experiences of Ukrainians and Jews over the centuries, expressed in literature and nonfiction. The Prize will be awarded annually to the most influential work in literature and nonfiction (in alternate years) that fosters Ukrainian-Jewish understanding, helping solidify Ukraine's place as a multi-ethnic society and giving truth to the motto, "Our stories are incomplete without each other."
The goal of the richly illustrated catalogue is to present an integrated narrative that looks at the experience of these two peoples together, in all its complexity — through periods of crisis, as well as long stretches of normal co-existence and multifaceted cultural interaction from antiquity to 1914.