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Shofar so good
‘Shalom Y’all’ Jewish Food Festival returns to Forsyth Park

Oy vey, there’s goes my waistline -- again. You might want to forget that diet, at least on Sunday, Oct. 28.

The Shalom Y’All Jewish Food Festival is returning for its 19th year with delectable foods such as latkes, hot corned beef, pastrami, brisket, stuffed cabbage and cholent. Oh, and the egg creams will be back again this year.

Don’t forget the bagels and lox, whitefish and herring, hummus and pita salad. And for all that ails you, you’ll find matzah balls swimming in homemade chicken soup. Ahhh!

Maybe you’re in the mood for blintzes, ah mein lo mein, chopped liver, kugels or tongue. Perhaps some strudel for dessert? Eat all you want for lunch and use take-out containers to take food home for later.

Even Fido loves the Jewish food festival. Homemade dog biscuits will be available for sale.

The festival is put on every year by the congregation of the Mickve Israel synagogue. It takes a lot of effort, but it’s a labor of love, says Steve Gordon, one of the festival’s organizers.

New to the festival this year will be falafels. “They’re quite delicious,” Gordon says.

Cooking is done by volunteers. “We cook food in the full restaurant kitchen at the temple,” Gordon says. “We’ve got people making noodle kugels now. Second Harvest allows us to use their freezers.”

The apple strudel is one of Gordon’s favorites. “No one would eat it if they knew how it was fixed,” he says. “It has so much butter.”

Although many items are homemade by volunteers, other are brought in. “The corned beef and pastrami comes from New York,” Gordon says.

In addition to the food, (oh, the food!) there will be a gift shop with unique Judaica and holiday items, plus Mickve Israel’s own Shalom Y’all Cookbook, now in its fifth printing. There also will be a children’s booth with face painting, cupcake decorating, games and balloons.

A highlight of the festival will be the 2007 Jerusalem Concert for Peace, presented by the Jewish Educational Alliance. The performance will begin at 2 p.m. and will feature the Israeli musical sensation Shalom Zohar and the Desert Blossom Ensemble.

Zohar’s repertoire ranges from traditional Klezmer music to contemporary rhythm and blues. It incorporates Middle Eastern and Asian influences.

“The concert serves as a tribute to Israel’s desire for peace,” says Eshel Herskovitz, who is interim director of the JEA. “We are thrilled and honored to bring such a talented Israeli performer to Savannah for the very first time. I’m confident that audiences will appreciate his stunning vocal abilities and enjoy the opportunity to hear one of Israel’s rising stars live in concert.”

Admission to the festival is free, although tickets are required to purchase food. Advance 10 percent discounted tickets are available at

The festival is immensely popular, and Margie Levy, congregation president and food festival co-chair, has a theory why. “There’s no real Jewish delicatessen in Savannah,” she says. “People like that kind of food.”

It takes about 300 volunteers to prepare for the festival, Levy says. “We do have great people,” she says. “At the beginning of the festival, we blow the shofar, a ram’s horn that is used for the high holidays. It’s a symbol of calling people together.”

Don’t worry about rain. “We’ve never had rain,” Levy says. “We do lots of praying.”

Anne Maner is executive director of Congregation Mickve Israel. “In years past, we’ve estimated we’ve had about 10,000 people turn out,” she says. “It’s an event that everyone comes out and enjoys.”

“If you want to eat some delicious ethnic food and enjoy a beautiful day, show up,” Gordon says. “It’s good food and a good time.”

The Jewish Food Festival happens Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Forsyth Park.