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Federation Kicks Off Santa Barbara Jewish Festival with Festive Reception

April 28 celebration at Oak Park will feature a 'Walk the Land 65' tribute, entertainment, vendors and more

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery from the event.]

The Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara kicked off the 2013 Santa Barbara Jewish Festival with a festive reception Tuesday at the B’nai Brith Temple. The celebration was a prelude to the festival, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28 at Oak Park in Santa Barbara.

An important part of Santa Barbara’s rich history of ethnic celebrations, the festival will offer an array of activities for everyone in the family, including entertainment, vendors, information and ethnic food. The emcee will be local favorite Scott Topper.

Board president Alan Wyner welcomed supporters to Tuesday’s reception, then started the program with a moment of silence in remembrance of those who died and were injured in the Boston Marathon bombings just the day before.

“I am thrilled to be a part of the Jewish Federation and the festival, which bring recognition about the Jewish community and will bring us all together in the walk,” Wyner said.

Israel’s 65th Independence Day will be celebrated with “Walk the Land 65,” which highlights the contributions that Israel has made to the world. In its honor, participants will take a short walk around the park area and learn new things about the land of Israel.

Those who register in advance for the walk will receive a chance at a trip to Israel, plus other gifts. Click here to register online. Corin Koren and Ashley Monser sold walk T-shirts at the kickoff for $5.

This year’s entertainment lineup includes the Ventura Klezmer Band, Cantor Mark Childs and the Shir Chadash Youth & Adult Choirs, the B’nai B’rith Temple Band Kalinka, UCSB’s VocalMotion, Tova Morrison, Alla Rahka McKeon, Flor de Kanela, the UCSB Middle East Ensemble, the Santa Barbara School of Performing Arts and Israeli Dancing with Michal & Osnat.

The Ventura Klezmer Band plays and sings eastern European klezmer music such as freylekhs and horas as well as music from the golden age of Yiddish theater and film. Kalinka, a Santa Barbara-based acoustic quintet, will offer Old World tunes — drawing from sources such as Jewish Klezmer, gypsy, vintage jazz, French café and Eastern European folk dances.

“The Santa Barbara Jewish Festival and the celebration of Israel’s 65th year of independence promises to be a truly special event with something for everyone,” said Michael Rassler, executive director of the Jewish Federation. “Our volunteer committee has secured an incredible lineup of entertainers and activities, plus a silent auction. This should be the best festival we’ve ever had.”

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf arrived later in the program, citing a lengthy county meeting.

“I am so happy to be here,” she said. “I saw the inspiring videos on the website first thing this morning. It was the best part of my day. I can’t wait for the festival day on April 28.”

Food vendors at Oak Park will offer hot dogs, deli sandwiches, falafel plates, knishes, jelly donuts, chicken kabobs, hummus, baba ganoush, Israeli salads, smoothies, beer, wine, ice cream and cookies. Children’s activities will include face painting and a visit to a replica of the Western Wall.

Festival supporters include the federation leadership of Wyner, Michael Rassler and board members Ron Zonen, Mike Nissenson, Joan Rothenberg, Laini Millar Melnick, Alan Levy, Stephanie Locker, Rachelle Pegg and Lauren Katz.

Other supporters include Montecito Bank & Trust, Atherton Lane Advisers (Steve Katz), the Bacara Resort & Spa, Noozhawk, Cox Communications, Bella Vista Designs, Scott Topper Productions, Southern California Mitzvah, Easy Lift Transportation, Wilson Printing, Cottage Health System, Gelson’s Markets, Service Master and others.

For more information or to volunteer, click here or contact communications coordinator Nancy Friedland at 805.957.1115 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow her on Twitter: @NoozhawkSociety and connect with Noozhawk on Facebook and Pinterest.

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