If you haven’t set aside April 1 on your calendar for the Seattle Jewish Festival at Seattle Center, consider yourself among the minority in the community.
What is expected to be the largest-ever Northwest celebration of Jewish artistry, culture, food, music, education and information is already the talk of the town and it’s still nearly a month away. This free, day-long family festival will showcase everything Jewish, plus two stages of live entertainment, highlighted by an appearance by Israeli pop star David Broza.
If the entertainment, food and schmoozing is not enough to encourage you to mark your calendar, how about the possibility of winning a free drawing for two free tickets to Israel, courtesy of Spirit Travel and Cruises?
The festival, presented by IKEA, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., is expected to draw up to 25,000 people. It is sponsored by the Community Outreach Project of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. Other corporate sponsors include Seattle Center, Noah’s New York Bagels, Deloitte & Touche, Pepsi, The Jewish Transcript, the Eastside Journal and the Samis Foundation.
Highlights also include a performance by fusion group RebbeSoul, an appearance by cookbook author Joan Nathan, 30 booths of Jewish artisans and vendors, interactive community organizational booths, model matza baking, a book fair and — did we mention — lots of food.
More details about the festival than you could ever need will be included in a special Festival Guide in the next issue of The Jewish Transcript.
Seattle Jewish Festival is part of Festal, the umbrella for all cultural celebrations at Seattle Center. Festal is sponsored by Seattle Center and The Seattle Times. For information, contact Seattle Jewish Festival Hotline, 206-441-8479, ext. 259. The festival is on the Web at www.seattlejewishfestival.org. The Federation is also looking for volunteers to work on the day of the festival.
Quake tales: Community shares stories
“Hillel is fine — the only broken thing was my grogger…and just before Purim!” reports Rabbi Dan Bridge, who promised his report was entirely factual. “We did lose the top 3 feet on the house just north of us [but] no one was hurt.”
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Temple Beth Am in Seattle’s north end also did fine during the quake, according to Rabbi Beth Singer. “Nothing cracked, fell or broke. In fact, I was in the sanctuary practicing with a Bat Mitzvah and her family. We were rocked around quite a bit and decided to beat a hasty retreat since the glass was shaking pretty mightily. Seattle Jewish Community School seems to have done just great, too. They learned the proper bracha [blessing] upon experiencing an earthquake, and all the teachers did a fabulous job of processing their emotions with drawings, writing and discussion.”
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What is the proper blessing to say after an earthquake? “She-ko-cho u’g'vu-ro-to ma-lay o-lam — We praise The Holy One whose strength and might fills the world.” According to the Hirsch siddur, this blessing is said on hearing thunder or upon witnessing a storm or earthquake. The Birkat HaGomel, the prayer thanking God for deliverance from would-be disaster or pain, would also be appropriate.
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Rabbi Sholom Ber Levitin of Congregation Shaarei Tefilah and regional director of Chabad-Lubavitch tells the story of how he and a student experienced God’s presence during the earthquake. He and a young man were studying in Bellevue at his office. Once a month they meet to talk, put on tefillan and say the Shema together. As they were taking out the tefillin, they felt the room begin to shake. “He looks at me and says, ‘Rabbi, I think this is an earthquake.’ I said we should walk under the door-post. He was about to take his yarmulke off.” Rabbi Levitin told him he shouldn’t dare. They both paled, but were uninjured in the earthquake. The rabbi’s words of wisdom after the quake? “Every once in a while Almighty God wants to show us who is the real boss.” Then they both got on the phone to call their families.
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Susan Rosen of Congregation Ezra Bessaroth in Seward Park was interviewing a job applicant for the position of bookkeeper when the quake hit. They dove under the table in the library to wait out the motion together. Although Rosen agrees that it was a bonding moment for her and the job applicant, she reports that the women did not get the job.
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Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz of Congregation Beth Israel said the earthquake was definitely felt as far north as Bellingham. The synagogue’s “venerable old building” has some new cracks in the ceiling and walls of its sanctuary. “The cracks are not all that severe; we have an old structure, which has already been peeling and cracking, but the new ones were fairly noticeable.”
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The woman answering the phone at Temple Beth Hatfiloh in Olympia seemed as surprised as we were to discover that venerable old building, which was the closest Jewish building to the epicenter, did not suffer much in the earthquake. “We fared very well. There was no damage at all. Everything is fine here,” she said.
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Kathy Black, office manager at Temple Beth El in Tacoma, reported that the synagogue that was the second closest to the epicenter of the quake was also undamaged. She said that when the earthquake hit, “I was in the back of the Temple, thinking ‘Where am I in relation to the tower’.” The tower was fine, too.