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07/21/2021 08:15 AM

Jewish Festival Returns to Guilford Green with Family Fun

It has been a long time since the Jewish shoreline community has been able to gather and wish each other a hearty Chag Sameach (“happy holiday”). Like many other faith groups, many families have subsisted on Zoom meetings and small family events over the last 18 months, unable to join together for the many traditional celebrations and services.

That will all change on Sunday, Aug. 1 on the Guilford Green, when Chabad of the Shoreline re-launches its Jewish Festival summer bash, inviting people of all faiths to join for an extensive spread of kosher delicacies, light-hearted Jewish music and storytelling, book and art vendors, and games and activities for the little ones.

“We’re going to make up for some lost time,” said Rabbi Yossi Yaffe, director of Chabad who is overseeing the festival, now in its 15th year.

Canceled last summer during the pandemic, the Jewish Festival has been a way for Chabad to bring residents together just to celebrate Jewish life and culture, promoting family-focused activities and teaching about Jewish life and traditions. Yaffe said that for a long time now, the Jewish community has been somewhat relegated to in-home practices and “do-it-yourself Judaism” with Chabad just trying to safely facilitate whatever it can.

“It’s been a very interesting experience,” Yaffe said. “We really want to empower people to celebrate Judaism not just in a synagogue, but to make their family a center of Jewish life.”

Yaffe said that Chabad has just begun to move back to indoor services, “with a constant eye” on evolving health guidelines. The hope is to celebrate the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this September with all the traditional gatherings and services, he added.

For the Jewish Festival, Chabad was only able to book the bands (which include Lazer Lloyd and the Schlepping Nachas and Brian Bender & Little Shop of Horas, among others) toward the middle of July, according to Yaffe, as everyone remains cautious about the still ongoing pandemic.

“We literally did this last minute,” he said. “We weren’t sure it was actually going to happen...It takes a few months for most entities to pull together something like this.”

Being able to walk around outside, peruse the unique Israeli and other traditional Jewish foods, shop for crafts, and enjoy Jewish folk tales told through puppet shows with the little ones is something Yaffe said he knows will be “very welcome” for the entire community.

“We get people from all sorts of backgrounds—people who want to just enjoy the music...and traditional Jewish food,” he said. “I think everyone is looking forward to it. We need it, we really need it. Everyone needs it.”

The Jewish Festival will run from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1 on the Guilford Green. For more information, visit