“LE MOOD is TED Talks for Jews and the people that know, love, and are turned on by them,” says Mike Savatovsky, festival organizer, outreach director, and McGill alumnus.
Maybe hipsters were there before it was cool, but the Mile End was Jewish first. This fall, something fresh will permeate the air – and it’s not those irresistible bagels at Fairmount.
This Sunday, October 14, LE MOOD, “The Festival of Unexpected Jewish Learning, Arts & Culture,” features a day of activities exploring everything Jewish. Modelled after similar festivals taking place from Paris to Toronto, LE MOOD includes 120 sessions or “experiences” crammed into a single day at Espace Reunion.
Set in a former factory, the first iteration of the festival drew many surprises, one of which was an estimated 800 people. This year, festival organizers expect 1000 or more, including a huge legion of volunteers. This group will be “very young at the core,” Savatovsky said, as it is specifically targeted to college students and the young professional crowd who are beginning to carve out their places in the world. In Hebrew, limmud means learning.
According to Zev Moses, an organizer, “LE MOOD is a starting point for anyone, no matter what their background, to learn about Jewish culture; to begin to ask questions and engage with it on their own terms. Our hope is that a session that someone attends this year will inspire them to embark on creating something unique and then present about it at next year’s festival.”
With its grassroots model, LE MOOD Montreal is unique among other Jewish festivals or organizations, which often seem stodgy, academic, or overly religious. Mike Savatovsky, the director of outreach, engagement, and press, stressed the wide cross-sections of society that Jews inhabit in Montreal. For him and others, the festival is meant to question how “being Jewish fits into the multiple identities we have.”
For many, being Jewish in Montreal is no longer about celebrating the High Holy Days or going to temple, but is about being part of a larger cultural continuum. Speaking about how the festival took its shape and scope organically, Savatovsky says, “as a group with a proud heritage of producing some of the finest expressions of thought, arts, and culture in North America, Jewish Montrealers simply needed a place to gather, hangout, and show off.” Marisa Samek, a McGill student and summer programming intern for LE MOOD, suggested that the festival aims to “break with conservative trends” to create something “really hip, exciting, fun, and relevant” for Jews and non-Jews alike.
Being Jewish (or living in the same city as Jews) is about more than kishkes, kvetching, religion, or politics. Though LE MOOD will certainly cover these broad topics, other highlights will include a rabbi speaking about alcohol in Jewish life (and offering fine scotch tastings), Jewish Comedy, and a discussion on the changing face of Judaism in Poland.
The organizers played to this diversity of interests when choosing programming, and were open to virtually anything relevant being presented. This includes a rich culture of film, literature, cuisine, and neurotic discussions of whether the films of Woody Allen mean anything.
According to the festival website, “Dinner will be served in tasting portions for $5 each, with something for everyone.” Kosher food will be offered by “two of Montreal’s hottest restaurants – M:BRGR and PARK – [which] will dazzle you with their tantalizing culinary creations, serving up fully kosher versions of some of their best dishes.”
LE MOOD will take place at Espace Reunion, 6600 Hutchison.
Tickets are $20 total for the full day at the door; a limited number of tickets will be sold in advance online for $15.