Though distinguished by its name — taken from the Hebrew word for culture – the upcoming Tarbut: Festival of Jewish Culture may be more correctly distinguished by the…well, the culture.
"It’s the calibre of the programming and performances that make it special," says festival publicist and co-ordinator Rebecca Brask. Above all, it’s an arts fest but "with a Jewish hook."
The fourth annual incarnation of Tarbut, which incorporates the former annual Jewish Book Fair, unfolds Nov. 16-24 at the Rady Jewish Community Campus, featuring a major event nightly over the duration (excluding Fri., Nov. 22 for Shabat).
Past guests have included Giller Prize and Governor General’s Award-nominated author David Bezmogis (Natasha, The Free World) and New York Times bestselling novelist Anita Diamant (The Red Tent).
Yet while high-profile names in literature have provided some of the most prominent headlining to date, "a wide spectrum of programming with a broad inclusion of the arts is the overarching goal," Brask says. That includes three concerts plus film screenings and visual art.
Musical events include visiting Israeli performers the Omer Avital Quintet, combining jazz and world music, and the Israel Brass Quintet, with a repertoire of classical and popular Israeli numbers. Concluding the festival will be The Magic of Brass: A Family Chanukah.
Featured writers this year include journalist-turned-novelist Martin Fletcher, the former NBC Middle East correspondent and Tel Aviv bureau chief, whose brand new novel Jacob’s Oath hit shelves just last month.
Then there’s Nancy Richler, most recently the author of Giller Prize-nominated novel The Imposter Bride, which won a 2013 Canadian Jewish Book Award for fiction.
Screening will be Israeli films The Ballad of the Weeping Spring and The Matchmaker, the latter of which is nominated for seven Israeli Academy Awards.
With such a lineup — not to mention a complete sellout for a Nov. 16 Barbra Streisand tribute featuring Winnipeg vocalist Heitha Forsyth — it’s only logical to inquire: do Tarbut organizers already have fifth anniversary plans?
"I do," Brask laughs, suggesting little worry about bringing them to fruition. After all, "it gets better and better every year.