By Stephen E. Lipken
Over fifteen hundred people attended the first- Northern Westchester Jewish Festival held in the Mount Kisco Village Lot on Sunday, June 23rd. The event was hosted by BBYO; Congregation B’nai Israel of Armonk; Congregation Shir Shalom; Congregation Sons of Israel, Briarcliff Manor; Chabad of Bedford; Eden Village Camp; First Hebrew Congregation in Peekskill; Hebrew Congregation of Somers; J-Teen Leadership; Mount Kisco Hebrew Congregation; PJ Library; Pleasantville Community Synagogue; Sprout Westchester; Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester; Temple Beth Elohim, Brewster; Temple Beth Shalom; Temple Israel of Northern Westchester; Temple Shaaray Tefila; Tzal Shalom; Westchester Jewish Council; Yorktown Jewish Center; and supported by UJA Federation of New York.
How did this event come about, UJA Federation Westchester Community Mobilizer Tali Strom was asked. “We started talking to four rabbis in Northern Westchester. We had a conversation with them around what they may want to pursue outside of the walls of their synagogues for the larger Jewish community in Northern Westchester.
“They brought together some of their lay leaders and invited all the Jewish institutions that play in Westchester to partner with them. We had about 20 host organizations and synagogues and various other institutions. They sat around the table for the last three months, building this event. UJA served as a primary funder and sponsor and served as convener in order for these organizations to move forward.”
Elaborate musical entertainment was provided by Kenny Green and the Westchester Klezmer Program; the Maccabeats; Temple Israel of Northern Westchester, Croton-on-Hudson choir and bands conducted by Eddie Pleasant with vocal soloist Cantor Lauren Fogelman plus Carla Friend, Founder and Executive Director, Tkiya, who earlier entertained children with books and small animal hand puppets.
Kids feasted on homemade hummus, prepared by Fiddle Heads Cooking Studio.
A unique display was “Tzahal Shalom of Northern Westchester (www.tzahalshalom.org),” in its 13th year, bringing seven recently released reservist officers from Israel Defense Forces to Northern Westchester Jewish community, housed by host families as goodwill ambassadors for Israel and IDF, November 10-20.
Also appearing were Jill Schantz and partner Stacey Piken, owners of Challenge Island, an educational enrichment company, featuring STEAM Building and cross-curricular “and we enhance 21st Century skills such as cooperation, communication, critical thinking skills as well as creativity.