Rock, Reggae and Klezmer, Knishes, and Cotton Candy
Returning on Sunday, Aug. 1 for the fifth summer on the Guilford Green, the Shoreline Jewish Festival has become an annual, warm-weather tradition for people of all ages and backgrounds from throughout Connecticut and beyond.
Every year the variety of music and entertainment; children's crafts and activities; vendor booths featuring art, jewelry, Judaica, unique Israeli products, and books; and lots of food-from knishes and falafels to hamburgers, hotdogs, and Sno Cones-has increased, as has the number of volunteers.
"In the past we've had over 50 volunteers. We're aiming for 100 to make it all run smoothly and we already have 60 people lined up," says Rabbi Yossi Yaffe, director of Chabad of the Shoreline and coordinator of the event.
"This can't be done by any one person. It's a collaborative effort that makes this happen every year-everything from selling the tickets, helping out with arts and crafts, cooking the food, which is all Kosher, made by us, cooked right there" on the Green, Yaffe explains. "All of that is done with volunteers."
Music for All-Big and Small
This year's diverse musical lineup features Pey Dalid, the What's Up Band, the Klezmenschen, the Third Temple Band, and the Robert Rogers Puppet Company.
New York-based Pey Dalid, which performs throughout the U.S., Canada, England, and Israel, is coming to the festival for the first time. Blending roots, rock, and reggae with traditional Jewish music, the band's upbeat, funky, dance-able melodies appeal to the younger crowd and are sung in both English and Hebrew by three brothers-Mordechai (rhythm guitar/vocals), Shlomo (lead guitar/vocals), and Pesach (drums/percussion/vocals).
Also new this year is the What's Up Band, based in Stamford, playing classic American rock 'n roll with a Jewish theme and lyrics and a mission to entertain, inspire, teach, and spread words of shalom (peace) and hope.
The band has collectively performed on Broadway and on TV and, for the past three decades, has toured throughout the U.S. and abroad. Members include Jeff Richter, a.k.a. Bobby DooWah, one of the most popular children's entertainers in the tri-state area.
"These are two different genres of contemporary music being used to express the eternal Jewish message, merging with the music of the times and creating a hybrid of their own," notes Yaffe of the two bands.
In a more traditional vein, back for a second year is the Klezmenschen, a big band out of eastern Connecticut (Norwich, New London, Waterford, Mystic, and Groton) made up of brass, strings, and woodwinds that plays lively traditional Yiddish and Israeli folk melodies. The band is led by Roz Etra, who has taught music for more than 35 years. Band members all have day jobs and include a humanities professor, marine scientist, rabbi, attorney, dry cleaner, several engineers, and health care professionals.
Etra says a love of the sounds of Klezmer, including the music of Israel and the shtetls of Eastern Europe, has brought the band together.
"It's Jewish soul music," she says.
The Greater New Haven-area-based Third Temple Band will perform original compositions as well as adaptations to traditional liturgy, nigunim (wordless melodies), and Hebrew chants-a form of musical prayer that attempts to speak to the soul. Richard Gans, piano and lead vocals, leads the group of young musicians that includes Yonni Batta, violin, viola, and oud; Max Goldberg, guitar, clarinet, and saxophone; Sarah Gans, trumpet; and Aliza Gans, percussion. Special guest performer Mike Michaels will join on guitar, vocals, and harmonica.
The Robert Rogers Puppet Company, a premier touring repertory puppet theater established in 1980, performs a wide-ranging array of plays throughout the U.S. and around the world, including stories from the Jewish tradition that combine humor and values to appeal to all ages. The company will introduce kids to Klezmer music at the festival by presenting a Klezmer Cabaret performed by the puppets.
In addition to the performances, there will also be a shofar-making presentation, with the opportunity for people of all ages to make their own shofar (from a ram's horn) in honor of the upcoming Jewish New Year, when the trumpet-sounding horn is traditionally blown.
Children can participate in themed arts and crafts projects and there will be moon bounces and a giant blow-up slide to keep little ones entertained.
"The festival is a true pleasure," says Yaffe. "It's always wonderful seeing all the different faces coming out from the entire community and beyond. I really think it's a unique opportunity for people to come together and experience good music, good company, good food, and all-around fun."
The Shoreline Jewish Festival will be held Sunday, Aug. 1 from noon to 6 p.m. on the Guilford Green. Food, crafts, and vendor items will be available for sale. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.jewishoreline.org.
Chabad of the Shoreline is dedicated to helping Jews connect to their heritage through study, innovative programs, and communal events. Chabad also reaches out to those in need of spiritual or material assistance.
Noon: The Klezmenschen
1:15 p.m.: Robert Rogers Puppet Company
1:45 p.m.: The What's Up Band
3:15 p.m.: Pey Dalid
4 p.m.: Robert Rogers Puppet Company
4:30 p.m.: Pey Dalid
5:15 p.m.: The Third Temple Band