Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
The Schmooze

Celebs Are Getting A Rosh Hashanah Service At The Toronto International Film Festival

Will Spielberg say shacharis? Will Scarlett hear the shofar?

It could happen at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, which opens Thursday. For the first time, the world’s biggest cinema expo – and a celebrity magnet – will feature a pop-up synagogue to accommodate Jewish festivalgoers on Rosh Hashanah.

The first-ever “official High Holiday Services of TIFF”, which begins Sunday September 9, is the brainchild of Rabbi Meir Dubrawsky, founder of a small synagogue in the ritzy Yorkville neighborhood. The Toronto Star reported that Dubrawsky sought the blessing of Ellis Jacob, an entertainment executive and TIFF board member. A shortage of synagogues in downtown Toronto, where the festival takes place, makes the pop-up even more of a hot ticket.

Since the festival always launches the Thursday after Labor Day, a High Holidays conflict was inevitable. “TIFF never changes its dates, and I’ve always wondered why,” said George Friedmann, owner of the upscale Windsor Arms Hotel, whose ballroom will house the pop-up shul. “A significant number of Jews are involved in the business. But I guess it’s become so big on the world stage that people plan years in advance.”

Since Friedmann’s stately property already hosts A-list celebs — and maintains a kosher kitchen — it made a natural choice for the pop-up organizers. “With our kosher restaurant, we became known for observance,” said Friedmann, whose guests have included George Clooney, Michael Douglas, and Harrison Ford. “One of the people we met was Rabbi Dubrawsky, who has a very small synagogue in our neighborhood. A couple of years ago, he approached us about doing High Holiday services at the Windsor Arms, and it was packed.”

Rabbi Dubrawsky told the Star the service is “Orthodox with a primarily Reform or unaffiliated crowd.” Seating will be separate for men and women, and the hotel will provide yarmulkes. Despite the anticipated celebrity presence, the TIFF pop-up services won’t charge the faithful for seats. “No one will be refused,” Friedmann said. “They don’t have to pay to come in. That was my one requirement.”

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.