Monday, July 21, 2014

Jewish Food Festival aims for depth, unity

July 16. 2013 5:47PM

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The Jewish Food Festival, presented annually by Chabad’s Jewish Discovery Center (JDC), Clarks Summit, is an experience of Jewish food and music. But, according to Rabbi Benny Rapoport, JDC director, it is also much more than that - it is also a experience of unity, depth and history.

“Food is really intimate,” Rapoport said. “There’s a certain intimacy, that when you get together and eat with other people, it creates a unity, it creates a common experience. I think that’s what we’re trying to accomplish here, and that’s what we enjoy every single year with these events.”

This year’s festival, to be held July 21 at the Scranton Cultural Center, will feature three food stations: “Gourmet Falafel” by Posh Restaurant, “Kosher Deli Delights” by Riccardo’s Kosher Deli, and “Hot Wings N’ More” by Peggy’s Wing Sauce. Rapoport described the stations as “different areas and different flavorings.”

He said the menu will also include chopped liver and mini egg rolls.

“Chinese food has become so much a part of the Jewish American experience,” he said. “What Jewish person doesn’t like Chinese food?”

He added not only will the food taste good, it will also tell the history of the Jewish people. For example, the Middle Eastern station with its spicy Moroccan beef sticks and exotic Mediterranean salad is reminiscent of the Golden Era of Spain around 1,000 years ago, a high point of the Jewish history.

The deli station, he said, points back to the Jewish immigrants who came to America in the late 1800s and 1900s and survived on foods such as pickles, olives and corn beef. They would often have to make their food last for weeks, therefore ate highly-salted meets and other foods that don’t quickly spoil, such as cauliflower and cabbage.

At the wing station, a “new America,” is experienced, where the Jewish culture is blended with the American culture. There, kosher burgers, spicy wings and other favorites are served.

“The Jewish food aspect [of the event] is really much more than just good food,” Rapoport said. “It really tells the story of Jewish history and Jewish survival and really presents a concept of unity, that we’re all one, and it’s one America. Everybody…has something special to contribute to each other.”

The event will also feature a live concert performance by Jewish band 8th Day, which, according to its website,, is ‘one of Jewish Music’s hottest acts.’ The group was co-founded by brothers Shmuel and Bentzi Marcus and has so far released four studio albums, which receive regular air play on the radio in New York and Israel. The band has played hundreds of sold out concerts across the globe, touring in Australia, Spain, Israel, Hong Kong and the United States.

Rapoport described 8th Day as a band all ages can enjoy and appreciate. “Their message is very traditional,” he said, “and their sound is very fresh, very contemporary.”

But most of all, he said the band “strikes a chord” with its listeners through the messages in the lyrics. He said most people have never heard music like this before, and often times the rock or pop music heard on the radio has a “very shallow message.” 8th Day’s message, however, he said is “very deep.”

A free audio mp3 download of the band’s song “All You Got,” which Rapoport described as “a wonderful song about making life meaningful,” is available online at

Rapoport stressed the festival is for everyone. Whether young or old, Jewish or not, people from all backgrounds and walks of life are invited to come together and enjoy the festival. Tickets, which include both the food and show, are $60 for general admission, $42 for seniors and $30 for students. Sponsorships are available for $180 and up and include reserved seating. The doors to the event open at 5:30 p.m. and the concert begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available until sold out, and can be ordered online by calling 570.587.3300.


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