Christians have a good opportunity to support the local Jewish community in the wake of last weekend’s bloody attacks in Israel. The Jewish Culture Fest will be held this Sunday at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City.
“This is the perfect opportunity for Christians to stand with Israel and the Jewish community,” says Metro Voice publisher Anita Widaman. “All you need do is show up and support the culture festival.”
This year’s festival is expected to feature at least 30 participating organizations, up from the 19 that took part in the previous Culture Fest held six years ago. “People will be pleasantly surprised to see how many organizations there are and how diverse our community actually is,” said Ethan Helfand, director of Jewish Experiences.
Some of the notable participants include new organizations, such as Ahoovim, a program for adults with special needs, and Gather KC, which caters to members of the Jewish community in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Many of the better-known legacy organizations also will have booths, including Jewish Family Services, Jewish Vocational Services, KU Hillel and Chabad at KU. Most area synagogues will also have booths.
The festival runs from 11am to 6:30pm at 5801 W 115th St., Overland Park, Kan near Town Center in Leawood.
Scheduled activities include:
- Performing artists Joe Buchanan, Maccabeats and ShirLala,
- Traditional and contemporary kosher Jewish food vendors,
- Artists from Kansas City and across the Midwest,
- Hands-on children’s activities,
- Celebration of Israel, and
- Showcases of other Jewish organizations.
One improvement from previous years will be having the booths of the participating organizations interspersed amongst the artist tents. In another new initiative, organizers have pushed participating organizations to get creative with their booths. This is a way, Helfand said, for the organizations to show off their uniqueness and authenticity. For instance, the Lawrence Jewish Community Congregation is planning a “build your own Judaism” activity where visitors will post icons of Jewish symbols, such as challah or Torah, to a board to represent the unique ways in which they connect to and live their Judaism.
The range of participating organizations, Helfand said, will demonstrate to attendees the “wide variety of ways people can find meaningful ways to engage in and with the KC Jewish community. The bigger the tent we create, the more people we can welcome underneath it. Everyone belongs in our community and Jewish Culture Fest is a perfect example of how we put that into action.”
Widaman says that many feel helpless with the events in Israel and are looking for some way to voice their support Israel. “I know I want to do something and friends have told me the same thing,” she says. “I’m encouraging all of our readers to just show up. We can say to Hamas that we are all Israelis in this moment, ‘Am Yisrael Chai.”‘ The Hebrew words literally mean Israel Lives.
At the close of the festival all are invited to a free community gathering on the performer’s stage from 6 to 6:30 p.m. This event will include remarks from Jewish community leaders, songs and a special message dealing with the events in Israel. To encourage all to attend this event, admission to the festival will be free beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Parking will be available in the Aspiria (formerly Sprint) Parking Garages, Lots C, D, and E, located off 115th Street.
Tickets are as follows:
- Adults – $8 in advance, $10 at entrance on event day
- Kids (4-12) – $3 in advance, $5 at entrance on event day
- Kids 3 and under are free
- Admission is free after 5:30
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.thejkc.org/jewishculturefest/.
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice