Thursday, May 28, 2015

1st Ever Jewish Heritage Festival Today Thru Sunday

The art of renowned artist Mordecahai Rosenstein will be featured at Sunday's Jewish Heritage Festival

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Congregation Hesed Shel Emet.

Mordechai Rosenstein
Come for the art, entertainment, and activities, but be certain to stay for the food at Congregation
Hesed Shel Emet’s first-ever Jewish Heritage Festival, Sunday, May 31, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

With the unique work of world-renowned artist Mordechai Rosenstein as its centerpiece, the day promises a showcase of Jewish music, dance, theater, ethnic foods, shopping, and other activities that people of all beliefs and ages are certain to enjoy.

Rosenstein’s paintings, which derive their inspiration from the beauty of the Hebrew alphabet, have been presented to iconic people, ranging from Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. 

The public is invited to enjoy Rosenstein’s art, noted for its flowing forms and vibrant colors, at several events, beginning with a 1½ hour class, “Art for All Ages,” Thursday evening, May 28 at 7:30 p.m. The following night, also at 7:30 p.m., all are welcome at an informal 45- minute presentation, entitled “My Journey As An Artist.”

The public is also invited to an Artist’s Reception Saturday night, May 30, following Sabbath services. 

Rosenstein will share a powerful slide show and stories about his art and answer questions. Sunday, at the Festival, Rosenstein will continue with his painting, and his work will be available for enjoyment and purchase. 

All events are free of charge; however, a $10 donation is suggested for the Thursday evening class. Members of the public who wish to attend events prior to Sunday, are encouraged to call the synagogue (below) to reserve a spot and verify times.

The Festival entertainment kicks off with Israeli-style dancers in the main sanctuary at noon on Sunday. Rabbi Daniel Zucker, the congregation’s spiritual leader, will follow-up with a question and answer session and a tour of that sanctuary, including its beautiful stained glass windows. 

Israeli-style dancers will perform noon Sunday.
“The idea of a Jewish Heritage Festival makes sense to me in order to inform our neighbors about who we are, and to share the beauty of our heritage with all who would like to learn about it,” explains Zucker.

At 1:30 p.m. the spotlight will shine on the Reading Theatre Project’s production of “From Borscht Belt to Broadway.” 

Vicki Haller Graff, artistic director, describes the performance as a 45-minute “cabaret-style show with songs, scenes, and jokes taken from prominent Jewish performers,” and featuring four actors and two musicians. 

Performers from the Reading Theatre Project
The “Borscht Belt” refers to New York State’s Catskill Mountains, a vacation paradise for a mostly Jewish clientele from about 1940-1980.

Performing musicians and comics were a highlight of those summer resorts.

Music takes center stage 2:30-3:30 p.m., when Klezmer with Class performs. 

Mark Sobol, a classically trained jazz musician who immigrated to the United States from Odessa, Ukraine, directs group members, most of whom are from the former Soviet Union. 

The group, which has delighted Philadelphia area audiences, explains, “The word Klezmer comes from two Hebrew words, clay and zimmer, meaning ‘vessel of music or song.’ Each instrument … takes on human characteristics, like laughing or crying with a joyous exuberance or soulful wailing.”

Congregation Hesed Shel Emet's cookbook,
'Beyond Brisket & Bagels,' will be for sale too.
During the Festival, patrons can purchase lunch and grab dinner or desserts and breads “to go,” selecting from an array of delicious traditional Jewish foods. 

Choose a succulent brisket sandwich or perfectly spiced corned beef on rye or an all-beef hot dog.

Vegetarian meals will also be available. Those who prefer lighter fare can enjoy a bagel with cream cheese or throw on “the works” – lox (smoked salmon), onions, and capers.

Don’t miss “the sides” – potato knishes (savory mashed potatoes and onions in a light dough), kugel (a slightly sweet “pudding” made with noodles), blintzes (thin crepes filled with slightly sweet cheese) – or enjoy them as your meal. 

And don’t forget Mandel Brot (twice-baked almond cookies) or Rugelach (rolled sweet pastries with filling) for dessert.

Kosher wines from will also be available for tasting and beverages will be sold. Challahs (braided breads that make delicious french toast or are tasty on their own), Jewish apple cakes, kugel trays, hearty rye breads, and other items will also be available to take home.

The Festival will come to a joyous and energetic conclusion as the dancers return to the main sanctuary at 4 p.m. with music and a medley of traditional Jewish dances designed to end the day on a high note. 
Corned beef will be among the traditional Jewish foods for sale.

Beginning with the well-known folk song, “Hava Nagila,” “Let Us Rejoice,” the “dancers are certain to get everyone on their feet. It is a high energy, jump-in and join-in finale,” promises Miryam Nygaard, entertainment chairperson.

Children will enjoy additional activities including crafts, face painting, balloon animals, and a “please-touch” display. 

Also of interest, Al Wiesner will be at the Festival, selling his “Shaloman” comic books. Wiesner created his superhero, Shaloman, so that children could have a Jewish hero with super powers as a role model. Kids of all ages have been enjoying these Jewish Heritage themed comics for decades.

All entertainment is cost-free, but shoppers will have an opportunity to purchase pieces of art created by Rosenstein. 

Bring some challah bread home to make delicious French toast.
In addition, Philadelphia’s “Dahlia: Treasures from the Holy Land,” will offer giftware, women’s apparel, and Judaica items. 

The congregation’s own cookbook will be on sale at a special price of $18 or three for $50, and Festival attendees can also purchase $1 raffle tickets in drawings for themed gift baskets and items ranging from restaurant gift certificates to a small harp from Marini Harps in Lancaster to a family membership to the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, among other items.

Amy Wolf, congregation president, is excited about this event. 

“The congregation is rolling out a welcome mat for people of all cultures and faiths throughout the region. We want to show folks that Hesed Shel Emet is a vibrant and exciting community," she said. "The Jewish Heritage Festival promises fun, food, education, and a celebration to remember.”

Congregation Hesed Shel Emet is at 575 N. Keim St. in Pottstown.
Congregation Hesed Shel Emet is located at 575 N. Keim St., Pottstown, PA 19464.

In keeping with Jewish dietary laws, the kosher food selections are under the supervision of Rabbi Daniel Zucker.

Dairy will be served downstairs; meat and vegetarian foods will be upstairs.

All food items will be available as cash purchases at the Festival, but for convenience, patrons may also pre-order and pre-pay foods at

To reserve a spot at one of Mordechai Rosenstein’s Thursday, Friday, or Saturday presentations, please call the synagogue office: 610-326-1717

For more Festival information and schedule updates visit:

For more information about the congregation, visit:, or

For more information about Mordechai Rosenstein visit:

For more information about Klezmer with Class visit:

For more information about Reading Theater Project visit:

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