Television Fit for a Mensch

Published: August 12th 2010
in Culture » Television

Menschlife TV
Pic: Menschlife TV

David Grossman found his true calling in his early forties. The creator and co-host of Menschlife TV, a Toronto-based Jewish TV show that will soon be available in Canada on Jewish Life Television (JLTV), caught the broadcasting bug after doing radio spots for his mortgage business on Zelda Young’s Jewish radio show.


In three short years, he went from voicing a short ad every other week to a daily segment where he interviewed experts in his field. Eventually, he decided upon a goal: to start interviewing Jewish guests about the community and Israel.


"I became very passionate and interested in Jewish issues,” he said. “I wanted to do more and more and Zelda Young said, ‘What do you want to do? You want to take over my show?’ And I said ‘Yeah’ and she said, ‘Well, no, it's not going to happen.’"


So Grossman decided to start his own Jewish program on the Internet using rented studio space. In March 2009, Menschlife TV was born.


Likewise, Menschlife co-host Doris Epstein had a longtime dream to launch a hard-hitting and well-produced Canadian Jewish television show. She always knew there was a void, but until Menschlife TV came along, she was never able to figure out how to fill it. For instance, 12 years ago, she did a pilot for Vision TV called The Jewish Journal – an informative political show that was a mixture of light and heavy topics. It had the support of the entire Jewish community, Epstein said, but “it couldn’t be sustained financially and I let it go.”


Epstein, who also writes for Shalom Toronto, first met Grossman at a press conference in late 2009 where they bonded over a shared passion for Jewish issues. At that point, he was doing his TV show online all by himself. Epstein was intrigued. When they bumped into each other a second time, they sat down and talked about trying to do a show together. They haven’t looked back since.


Grossman received a call from JLTV around December, around the same time he met Epstein. "It was pretty incredible," he recalled. “[At the time] I didn't have a huge audience but at least I was out there where people could fine me and they did find me."


“Co-hosting is like going to bed with somebody,” added Epstein. “There's a sensitivity, there's a non-verbal communication. It's a tremendous balance of being who you are and saying what you want to say, but working in tandem. It can be tricky."


Grossman and Epstein describe Menschlife as the first professional quality Jewish television show in Canada. The weekly one-hour talk show brings together guests from all walks of life to discuss a wide range of issues of importance to the Jewish community, from news to cultural issues, from serious to entertaining. Guests include important figures in the community, rabbis, spiritual leaders, Canadian and Israeli politicians, artists, filmmakers and musicians. A recent guest was York Centre MPP Monte Kwinter. Other guests have included Israeli-Canadian documentary filmmaker Igal Hecht and bible teacher Channa Sargon.


"Our number one mandate is to create a positive and real image of Israel, what's going on in Israel and what's going on worldwide with respect to anti-Semitism,” said Grossman.


Epstein is outspoken when explaining the importance of the show. "It's people who have a vision that would not normally be heard by [large mainstream] media outlets,” she said. “You'll never get this information any place else."


They want their show to be where Jews turn first for their news when breaking events occur.


Related articles: (television, menschlife tv, JLTV, david grossman, doris epstein)

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