By Lisa Hornung
A hot, beautiful, sunny day greeted about 2,000 guests at the Israeli Street Fair on Sunday, May 15, at the Traeger Family JCC.
“We’ve been hearing raves all day long,” said Tricia Kling Siegwald, who coordinated the event. “Everyone has been thrilled.”
While the JCC has had Israeli festivals in the past, this one stood out as the largest and most diverse.
“What we tried to do here when we created this event is something for everyone,” Siegwald said. “You look around, you see all these different ages.”
Faux streetlamps with signs bearing names of actual Israeli avenues freckled the parking lot, directing foot traffic to highlights of the fair, like Meesh Meesh Falafel by Chef Noam Bilitzer. A long line stood at his booth until it was sold out. Bilitzer is formerly the executive chef at Red Hog Butcher and grew up on a farm in Israel.
Rabbi Simcha Snaid of Congregation Anshei Sfard worked with Bilitzer Thursday and Friday in the JCC’s kitchen to make sure the food served from the booth was kosher.
“Next year, we’ll be ready, so we don’t have lines for our falafel,” Siegwald said.
While not all food served at the fair was kosher, it was all vegetarian, including the food trucks at the event, like Spinelli’s Pizza, where one of the bakers entertained the crowd, skillfully tossing and catching twirling saucers of pizza dough.
DJ Aaron Thompson played modern Israeli music, adding to the street life atmosphere.
At 3 p.m., Cantors David Lipp and Sharon Hordes, and vocalist Jennifer Diamond took the stage to sing Jewish and Israeli songs.
The Star of David Kids’ Zone was popular among families of young children. There were inflatables – an obstacle course and a bouncy house – and a large craft tent that included spice painting, coloring of a hamsa and edible maps of Israel kids made with food.
Sharon Salvatore said she came to the event to honor her “Israeli sisters,” with whom she went on a Momentum trip to Israel in 2019. She said she and her three children enjoyed the fair.
“It’s nice bringing everybody together. This might be the most amount of Jewish people we’ve seen together since we’ve been in Louisville,” Salvatore said. “It’s nice to have a sense of community because where we live, we’re just about the only Jewish people.”
Zachary Salvatore, 8, said his favorite part was the Challenge Tent in the Kibbutz Hangout, which was set up like an escape room, except that contestants had to answer questions to finish. Zachary said he learned when Israel first became a state.
His sisters, Bella and Olivia, both 11, said they most enjoyed the food and hanging out with people.
Snaid was pleased by the number of people who came.
“This is such a great turnout, he said. “It’s great to see so many people come out to celebrate and to see all the different types of people that are here. To see all the different programming and people coming together, it’s really just a wonderful job.”