IAC’s Israeli-Flavored Sukkot and Skirball’s Harvest Festival

October 10, 2019
Mostly Kosher

With the High Holy Days
behind us, it’s time to shift our focus from the solemnness of Yom Kippur to the celebration of Sukkot.

Sukkot With an
Israeli Flavor

The Israeli-American Council (IAC) Shepherd Community Center in Woodland Hills will host its annual family-friendly Sukkot festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13, The theme of this year’s festival is “Sukkot with an Israeli flavor.” 

“Since the event is taking place at the beginning of Sukkot, I wanted people to start feeling the holiday spirit,” IAC Special Events & Outreach Senior Manager Shiri Vaserman told the Journal. “The main purpose of the IAC is to bring people together and connect them to Israel, so I think the festival is something that serves this purpose. We are [expecting] an attendance of around 1,500 people and not all of them are connected to the IAC or have participated in any past events, so for us it’s also for people to get to know the IAC and get familiar with what we are doing. And obviously have fun.”

In keeping with the Israeli flavor, visitors will be met with scenery right out of the Israeli desert and Tel Aviv beach. There will also be a selection of kosher food trucks offering Israeli delicacies such as falafel. There will be a ton of activities for kids including camel rides, a climbing wall and a carousel.

“The main purpose of the IAC is to bring people together and connect them to Israel, so I think the festival is something that serves this purpose.”

In addition, the IAC has teamed up with 15 organizations from the community, each of whom will have a sukkah-style booth with palm fronds on top and offering arts and crafts activities related to Sukkot and to Israel. 

On the main stage, there will be dance performances by IAC Zumba and IAC Hip-hop; a dance performance from the Adat Ariel School and kids entertainment by Tamari. The main performance will be by Naama Super-Al, an Israeli superhero for kids.

The event is free, however registration is required because of security reasons. For more information, visit israeliamerican.org/LA/event/sukkot.

The Skirball Harvest

Bring in the fall harvest season and celebrate Sukkot at the Skirball Cultural Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 13. 

“Our goal is to connect themes of the fall harvest season to the holiday of Sukkot and we love to have people come and kick off the celebration of the fall harvest so the timing was really perfect,” said Adele Lander Burke, Skirball’s vice president of public programs. 

The festivities will begin with a performance by Daddy Differently, a DJ and a pseudonym used by Spencer P. Velasquez. He will play a set featuring a contemporary take on music about the harvest. Following him is locally  acclaimed Klezmer gypsy-rock band, Mostly Kosher. As they play, Bruce Bierman and Gilberto Melendez will lead Israeli dances. The instructors, who live in the Bay area, are being brought in for the event. 

There will also be a spoken-word performance. “It’s been created by our internal family and Noah’s Ark staff, as they are professional performers. They will be telling the stories behind the holiday, the meaning of the holiday and of the High Holy Days in general,” Burke said.

This year, the Skirball decided to partner with Creative Ways, a husband-and-wife team, who will oversee all the workshops. 

“Shari Davis and Benny Ferdman have put together an amazing set of workshops that people can drop into,” Burke said. “We are doing a DIY herbal kitchen where people will learn how to make vinegars and salves. There will be other workshops on making your own tea bags and making dream pillows. Everything that is made in the workshops is with something that is actually grown and harvested.”

Visitors also can take part in a program called World Café. Designed for ages 12 and older, stories will be shared around tea and snacks. The program will include prompts and a facilitator for getting people to talk about the meaning of the harvest and what’s happening in our world. 

There will also be an olive oil tasting at the Skirball archeology dig. “The themes we really try convey to the guests in the workshops deal with the changing seasons, the fragility of nature, the idea of the harvest,” Burke said. “Then we talk about shelter because the holiday is about a temporary shelter; the fragility of shelter and how important shelter is in our lives.”

She added, as part of the Skirball’s mission, “we want to welcome the stranger and welcome everyone to enjoy what we have here. We encourage people to have conversations and get to know one another. We always say you may be a stranger when you come in the door but you won’t be one when you leave.”

$12 general; $9 seniors, full-time students and children over 12; $7 children 2–12; free to members and children under 2. For more information, visit skirball.org/programs/festival/skirball-harvest-festival. 

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