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Jewish CultureFest: Celebrating Our Heritage
 
Friday, November 16, 2018

With live music, Judaica, specialty foods and art and mitzvah projects, the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC of Houston presents a jam-packed, fun afternoon at its 2nd annual Jewish CultureFest, held this year on Sunday, December 9 from 1 to 6 p.m., at Levy Park.

The event complements Houston’s long-standing festivals celebrating Greek, Polish, Italian and other cultures, and will showcase the diversity of Jewish culture. This year’s event, held at Levy Park, 3801 Eastside Street, features an impressive lineup of both local and internationally acclaimed Jewish musicians, and engaging activities for all ages. After a fantastic turnout last year, an extra hour was added to this year’s CultureFest to make room for even more performers and activities. The festival is free and open to the public.

“Last year's inaugural Jewish CultureFest was a great success,” said Rabbi Samantha Safran, Director of the J’s Bobbi & Vic Samuels Center for Jewish Living and Learning and the CultureFest organizer. “It was so special to see everyone come together to sing, dance, eat and play, and it was a much-needed antidote to Hurricane Harvey. This year, we are excited to harness the energy and enthusiasm from last year and bring it to a new level and a new location.”

            The event’s main stage will feature nearly five hours of live music, with the Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas kicking off the festival at 1 p.m. The band’s spirited performance of Jewish folk songs will bring audience members to their feet. Congregations Beth Israel and Emanu El will showcase their Youth Choirs together at 2 p.m., followed by Mike Mason on guitar performing family music. The Beth Yeshurun Day School Choir and HaZamir Houston Teen Choir will also sing. Attendees can join an all-ages drum circle at 3:20 p.m. Internationally acclaimed American/Israeli rock group Moshav performs at 4 p.m., followed by cantor and jazz vocalist Magda Fishman, who has entertained audiences across Europe, the U.S. and Canada at venues including The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. Fishman will also lead attendees in a menorah lighting for the last night of Hanukkah.

            The festival will provide several opportunities to engage in community projects highlighting the value of tzedek, or social justice, in the Jewish tradition. Act Now Houston will offer passersby the chance to make “Welcome Home” cards for those returning to their homes after Hurricane Harvey, and Undies for Everyone—a non-profit that provides clean, new underwear to those in need—will facilitate a project to write and color cards that will be inserted in underwear packages.

            Children will also have a variety of activities to choose from at CultureFest. A Hanukkids Tent will feature Hanukkah activities and crafts for children up to five years old. J Camps, Camp Young Judea and Greene Family Camp will host a Summer Camp Fun Tent once again this year, complete with activities including S'mores, the always popular gaga pit, and more.

            Jewish artists will be on site selling their wares, including the Jewish Family Services’ Celebration Company, a social entrepreneurial program for adults with disabilities. Food vendors will offer a variety of Jewishly influenced foods. The event will be emceed for the second year in a row by EZ Bar Mitzvahs, who are donating their services.

“Houston is the most diverse city in the country,” Safran said, “and we hope our festival will offer a taste of Jewish culture to both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities alike.”

For more information on Jewish CultureFest, please visit www.erjcchouston.org/culturefest or contact Rabbi Samantha Safran at ssafran@erjcchouston.org or 713.595.8163. Volunteer opportunities are also available; contact Sylvia Dauber at srdauber@erjcchouston.org. Discover other J programs and services at www.erjcchouston.org. Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


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