By Stephen E. Lipken
The Westchester Jewish Council (WJC) and Westchester Klezmer Program in cooperation with Westchester County Parks presented their 44th Annual Westchester Jewish Music and Arts Festival on Sunday, August 19 at Kensico Dam, Valhalla, beginning with the Westchester Klezmer Program, conducted by producer Kenny Green; Israeli Dancing with Leng, sponsored by Camp Zeke and Family Music with guitarist Sandy Shmuely.
Entertainment continued with “Divahn,” led by Galeet Dardashti, “the first woman to continue her family’s tradition of Persian-Jewish musicianship,” according to Green. “The word ‘Divahn’ means a Hebrew-Persian collection of songs and poetry…”
Israeli dancing continued throughout the afternoon with the addition of juggler Ned Gelfarb who combined outrageous puns with a burning book, ball juggling, balloon sculpture and Indian Club juggling from a unicycle.
Besides numerous vendors of costume jewelry, apparel, food, Face Painting and Parties by Maria, important Israeli organizations were represented such as American Friends of Magen David Adom and American Friends of Soroka Medical Center/Soroka Heals, providing comprehensive cancer care for residents in southern Israel.
“We are thrilled to be doing the 44th Annual Westchester Jewish Music and Arts Festival,” WJC Assistant Executive Director Pam Goldstein exclaimed. “Every year it is a wonderful day of entertainment, food, and great day for the Jewish community to come out and celebrate our heritage…”
“What I love about the Westchester Jewish Music and Arts Festival is that so many people get together regardless of the weather…,” Pelham Jewish Center Rabbi Alex Salzberg observed.
“It demonstrates the strength of the wider Westchester community, that everybody comes together…”
“It is great to see the Jewish community of Westchester coming out to enjoy our culture and traditions,” Assemblyman David Buchwald commented. “Sometimes people focus on the divisions of the Jewish community but we in Westchester focus on what unites us, with families coming out to enjoy the music and festivities.”
“Once again this is part of the great mosaic of Westchester County,” County Executive George Latimer remarked. “Every ethnicity has a Heritage Day here at Kensico Dam and the Jewish community has been a tremendous contributor to what makes Westchester what it is today...”