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Santa Barbara Jewish Festival Celebrates Israel, Culture and Heritage

An estimated 5,000 people crowd Oak Park for day of music, dancing, food and fun

The 2010 Santa Barbara Jewish Festival was held at Oak Park on Sunday. An estimated 5,000 people enjoyed an array of falafels, kosher hot dogs and kugel. There was a variety of vendor, artisan and information booths; children’s activities; and Israeli dancing. Music included the Ventura Klezmer Band, The Temple Band of Congregation B’nai B’rith and the adult and children’s choirs, SoulAviv and Kalinka Klezmer.

The Jewish Festival is a vibrant part of Santa Barbara’s rich history of ethnic celebrations, and of Santa Barbara’s Jewish community itself. The Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara was proud to again sponsor the community-wide event.

The ceremony celebrating Israel’s 62nd year of independence was led by the federation’s executive director, Michael S. Rassler, and included the presentations of several Certificates of Recognition and a City Council resolution acknowledging the special occasion by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider; and 2nd District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf.

Rassler read a formal statement from President Barack Obama commemorating Israel’s independence and reaffirming the strong bond between the United States and Israel. Cantor Mark Childs and choir led the crowd in the singing the American and Israeli national anthems. A special certificate of recognition was presented to Phyllis Keimach in honor of her late husband, Mel, whose vision and leadership helped establish the Jewish Festival many years ago. The ceremony concluded with a moving speech by Sigal Yavets, the Israeli consul for administrative affairs in Los Angeles.

The festival would not have been possible without the many outstanding volunteers from our community, and from each of the agencies and synagogues that helped coordinate the celebration under the leadership of Itzik Ben-Sasson.

Finally, the event would have been impossible without our corporate sponsors and underwriters. They included Zahav (Gold) Sponsors of $2,500 or more: Montecito Bank & Trust, Wilson Printing, Pamela Taylor of Sotheby’s International Realty and Jody Belsher of J Belsher Creative. Kesef (Silver) Sponsors of $1,000 or more included Gelson’s Market, Congregation B’nai B’rith and the Community Shul of Montecito and Santa Barbara. Bronza (Bronze) Sponsors of $500 or more were the Anti-Defamation League Santa Barbara, Jack and Sylvia Camiel, Gina M. Meyers of CB Commercial, SoulAviv and Brown & Brown Insurance.

— Nancy Friedland is marketing, communications and Web director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.

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