The 30th Anniversary of the Santa Barbara Jewish Festival

ANNA VOVK

Director of Operations

Marking its 30th anniversary, the Santa Barbara Jewish Festival is the Central Coast’s largest community-wide Jewish cultural festival and celebration of Israel’s Independence Day. Held on Sunday, May 21st at Plaza del Mar, and organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Jewish Festival welcomed thousands of visitors each year to experience and share the best of Jewish culture—live music and Israeli dancing, arts and crafts vendors, family and children’s activities, local community organizations, and delicious food.

“The purpose of the festival is to have a good time while experience the eclectic Jewish culture,” said festival coordinator, Gil Cordona. “The festival is also there to educate people on what Jewish culture is, whether they are Jewish or not, and help eradicate preconceived and false stereotypes about the Jews.”

Those who attended the festival also had the opportunity to visit different booths that belonged to many different Jewish organizations.The Congregation of B’nai B’rith, the Chabad of Santa Barbara, and the PJ Library took the time to educate adults and children on what it means to be Jewish. Jewish camps, such as Camp Haverim and Camp Gan Israel helped Jewish families plan their summers and make sure that their children get the most out of their summer experience.

Although the educational aspect of the Jewish Festival, no Jewish Festival would be complete without entertainment. This year, the Festival featured the Ventura Klezmer Band, Santa Barbara Youth Opera,Congregation B’nai B’rith’s youth and adult choirs. Also, for the first time, Israeli folk dancing was combined with live music from Kalinka. Many people got the opportunity to dance whether they had experience or not. Families with children had the chance to enjoy nature art projects, face painting, Treasure Chest prize giveaways, and Wow Factor Attractions giant inflatable Battle Balls. Due to its popular demand, Sababa catering returned to this festival, and this time will be offering fresh falafel plates with hummus, pita, and various salads. There will also be delicious Kosher treats from Chabad of Santa Barbara’s Jerusalem Café as well as McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, beer and wine, and much more.

Even with its relocation, the Santa Barbara Jewish Festival was an enormous success. It was both a fun experience, as well as a meaningful and educational one.

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