Falafel + facepainting + camels = Israeli Street Fair 2023

By Andrew Adler
Community Editor

(L-R) Becky Admony and Karen Benabou enjoying last year’s Israeli Street Fair at the Trager Family JCC
(Photo by Robyn Kaufman)

When the Trager Family JCC’s Israeli Street Fair was about to make its debut last May, organizers figured that, say, about 500 visitors would attend. What they got was closer to 2,000.

So much for modest anticipation.

The 2023 edition, slated for June 4 from noon to 4 p.m., aims to take last year’s model and – as Emeril Lagasse might say – kick it up a notch. More food trucks. More vendors. And thanks to a considerably larger tent, more shade.

Like last year, the Israeli Street Fair will unfold outdoors on the expansive area to the left of the main building. In case the sun decides not to shine brightly on its old Kentucky home, the entire affair can pivot to the Trager Family JCC’s generous interior. Indeed, the June date was chosen to make sure the entire ground floor (including the Shapira Foundation Auditorium) would be available if needed.

The Fair will be decidedly kid-friendly (think inflatable bounce house, face painting, arts and crafts, etc.) Israeli artists Moshe and Goldie Monzon, who’ve participated in previous events here, are scheduled to return. So will celebrity Louisville chef Noam Bilitzer.

“We’re going to have a lot of the same things we did last year,” promises Tricia Kling Siegwald, the Trager Family JCC’s Senior Director, Festivals & Special Projects. “But the goal this year is to make it even bigger and better.”

Last May’s Fair arrived less than a month after the Trager Family JCC opened. Not surprisingly, there was abundant curiosity about the new facility – many fairgoers took the opportunity to tour the building.

Call it a case of Nothing Succeeds Like Success. Still, “we’re improving the stuff that needed to be improved,” says event chair Becky Admony. A prime example is the larger tent, sheltering visitors who’d just assume not have the sun beating down on their falafel.

And speaking of tasty consumables, the Israeli Street Fair is, literally, catering to its audience. Acknowledging some long lines for food last year, organizers are striving to bolster culinary efficiency. There will be selected adult beverages and appropriately indulgent desserts.

Returning vendors include Congregation Adath Jeshurun’s gift shop, and representatives from the Steam Exchange Community Arts Center, known for their T-shirts that spell out various ways to pronounce “Louisville” (one, naturally, in Hebrew letters).

Like last year, the Israeli Street Fair will boast a kibbutz area (activities still to be decided). A DJ will play Israeli tunes – “we’re still working on the live-music element,” Siegwald says, recalling that Cantors David Lipp (from Adath Jeshurun) and Sharon Hordes (Keneseth Israel) participated last time around.

Asked if there’d be anything special to mark Israel’s 75th birthday, Siegwald would say only that “I have a really neat idea — I just don’t quite know how to execute it yet.”

 Meanwhile, planners are doing all they can to spread the Fair-centric word. Last year’s turnout,” Admony says, was spurred largely by targeted advertising and big pushes on social media.

If all the above isn’t sufficient incentive, consider what may well be the Fair’s guests of honor: a pair of camels, sourced from the exotic territory known as New Carlisle, Ohio.

“Actually, we had one here five years ago when Israel turned 70,” Admony recalls. Queried as to the number of prospective humps, she demurred. The answer, it seems, may have to wait a little while longer.

For more information on the 2023 Israeli Street Fair, visit http://jewishlouisville.org/israelistreetfair.

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