Yom Ha’Atzmaut Israel Independence Day: Hungry for Israel Fest?

by | May 2, 2014 | Featured

Sunday, May 18, 11am–5pm • Simon Family JCC

With the Simon Family JCC’s annual Israel Fest fast approaching, the kitchens of area temples and Beth Sholom Village are busy preparing for the festival’s largest food component ever. Participation from every synagogue will undoubtedly put this year’s “Fest” on record as the tastiest.

At B’nai Israel Congregation, Eve Goldberg is creating a menu of turkey Shawarma and traditional Israeli salad, along with pita, hummus and tahini. Volunteers at the temple will pre-make the meals, cut the vegetables, divide up the portions and condiments and assemble it all again at the JCC on the day of the event.

“I heard from the temple president about being a part of this year’s Israel Fest, and knew I had to help lead it,” she says. “I want our synagogue to be represented in the community; we need to be a part of this exciting day.”

Over at Ohef Sholom Temple, Matt Mancoll is planning his menu of falafel, which he will fry on site. His sides will include Israeli salad, pita, and fries for kids. “I think it’s nice for everybody to be able to come together and participate in one function on the same day,” he says. “This is what the JCC stands for: the focal point of our Jewish community.”

Dan Hahn, executive chef at Beth Sholom Village for 10 years, is preparing a cherry smoked whitefish cake with remoulade sauce, and a side of spicy lentils and mint garnish. Lentils are traditional legumes that Israelis have eaten for thousands of years.

“My goal at Israel Fest is to have an amazing display,” says Hahn. “I will pan sear the smoked whitefish cakes on site, and the display will be interactive so that people can smell and see and be part of the action. I also want to show the community that Beth Sholom Village food and kosher food in general can be flavorful and varied.”

Other participating groups include Congregation Beth Chaverim, Congregation Beth El, Kehillat Bet Hamidrash Synagogue, Temple Emanuel, Temple Israel, the Sandler Family Campus, and Congregation Heichal Shlomo, which is preparing some sweet treats for the festival.

Maggie Sibony of Congregation Heichal Shlomo has three menu items planned: Milkies, Malabi, and the drink Lemonada. Milkies, she says, are something all Israeli kids grow up having as a treat. It’s a mousse cup with a whipped topping; a parve item for either meat or dairy eaters. Malabi is also traditional and at almost every restaurant in both Israel and around the Mediterranean. The consistency of jello with a cornstarch and rosewater base, it is topped with grenadine with a sprinkle of coconut. The Lemonada is probably the most popular dink in Israel, explains Sibony. “If you were in Israel right now, this is something you would not want to miss. They are super easy to make, refreshing and delicious.”

“Being a part of this food extravaganza is terrific,” says Sibony. “It will be a great day for those who want to eat Kosher out.”

“As a Jewish people, we should feel more related to each other,” says Eve Goldberg of B’Nai Israel. “We come together on Israel Fest to laugh and celebrate as one.”

by Leslie Shroyer