Temple plans first-ever Jewish festival in Jacksonville
By Susanna P. Barton
Resident Community News
Congregation Ahavath Chesed is one of the city’s oldest — if not the oldest — faith communities. Now it is making history again with plans for the city’s first-ever Jewish music and food festival.
Called Nosh & Notes, the three-day music and food event will be held April 13-15 at the temple campus, 8727 San Jose Boulevard. Local vendors will sample deli sandwiches, hot knishes and other fresh baked traditional pastries and a competition to crown a “Kugel King or Queen” will be part of the culinary fun. Organizers expect to feature food from area restaurants and caterers. Canadian Alan Goodis, a well known contemporary Jewish recording artist, will be the festival’s artist-in-residence. Local musical talent also will perform throughout the weekend.
“I tour as a Jewish musician because I love it,” said Goodis, whose style is described as refreshing and uplifting. “Being able to play Jewish music allows for me to have a more personal interaction with people than I likely would as a secular performer.”
That’s a far cry from the Yiddish songs and Klezmer, or Eastern European-style, music most people envision — and that’s just what festival organizers were looking for when they began planning the even more than a year ago. Sam Griswold, the temple’s membership and communications coordinator, was researching ideas for a redesign of the temple’s newsletter when he came across an ad for Klezmerfest in Louisville, KY.
“It was organized by a local synagogue there as their annual fundraiser and I kept it in mind, thinking ‘why can’t we do something similar?’” Griswold said. Executive Director Goldie Lansky helped massage the idea and guided Griswold to the proper individuals and committees for review and approval. The goal all along was to not limit the music portion of the festival to Yiddish style Jewish music, but to try and include both traditional and contemporary music styles.
The idea became reality and now many people from the temple have organized to bring the event to fruition. The event also will include a Tribute Dinner honoring Jo-Ellen Unger, director of education and youth at Congregation Ahavath Chesed who is leaving her post after many years of service. “A Taste of Tel Aviv” dinner in her honor will be held just prior to the festival’s Saturday evening concert. Falafel, Hummus, taboulleh, bourekas and baklava are on the menu.
“For two thousand years, Jews have been citizens of the world — both learning from and contributing to the cultures in which we lived,” Lansky said. “Modern Jewish ‘culture’ reflects this with a diversity that is unique — our goal with Nosh and Notes is to share a snapshot of Jewish food and music with the larger Jacksonville community.”
Over time, organizers hope the event will become an invaluable, familiar community event like many of the other religious and cultural festivals that occur annually around the city.
“Judaism is a religion, not a culture — the proof is the way in which Jews throughout history and from all places around the world have brought their local cultures to bear on the practice of our faith,” said Rabbi Joshua Lief. “That makes it all the more enjoyable to share Jewish food and music with our larger Jacksonville community — to share the richness of diversity and add to it in the process.”
Nosh and Notes organizers are selling tickets to the event online at www.noshandnotes.com.