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2018-02-09 digital edition
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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


February 9, 2018  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Food Festival returns to satisfy the craving for authentic Jewish cuisine

A Jewish Press report

Last year organizers expected a turnout in the hundreds for the first ever Tampa Bay Jewish Food Festival at Temple B’nai Israel in Clearwater, but a couple thousand showed up and some food items were sold out before noon.

“We have increased all the food amounts, so we hope for enough to feed about 4,000 this year,” said Barbara Bloom, temple coordinator for the event, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the temple, 1685 S. Belcher Road. The Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties provided a grant to help boost this year’s food fest.

Not only will there be more food, the list of foods offered has grown. In addition to the crowd favorite from last year – pastrami and corned beef sandwiches from Carnegie Deli in New York – the fare will include homemade matzoh ball soup, chopped liver, stuffed cabbage, latkes, bagels with the works, kugel, hamantaschen and a variety of other baked goodies. Sour pickles on a stick, one of the first items to sell out last year, will again be offered.

There will also be kosher hot dogs served from a hot dog cart on loan from Joel and Ellen Goetz, owners of Jo-El’s Delicatessen and Marketplace in St. Petersburg, plus falafel made in partnership with the temple and Mana Mana restaurant in Clearwater. A nosh-to-go booth will also be set up for those who want to grab take-out food.

Cost for food starts at $2 for a whole pickle to $15 for a corned beef platter that includes an oversized sandwich on rye, cole slaw and pickle.

“Using food as the excuse, it is our hope to create a greater feeling of a Jewish community in the Tampa Bay area,” said Sharon Finkelstein, Festival chairperson. “But at the same time, we also hope to reach out to our non-Jewish neighbors to learn and be a part of this celebration of our culture.”

Those attending are asked to bring a can of food for local food pantries.

Among the expanded offerings will be a tented beverage garden that will include wine and beer tastings. Entertainment will be provided by a harmonica group and the Chai Notes klezmer band. The Sunday Simcha show on WMNF-FM radio will also broadcast live from the event.

Triple the number of vendors from last year are expected plus more Jewish organizations have signed up for booths including Hillel Academy in Tampa, Jewish Women International, Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services, Hadassah, Tampa Bay Jewish Genealogy Society, the Jewish Press, and the Community Women’s Seder.

In the Kid’s Zone, there will be a Kona ice truck, a boutique cotton candy vendor, face painting, balloons, and bounce houses. Children are also invited to dress in costumes for Purim and prizes will be awarded for the best costumes.

More tents will be set up for the comfort of patrons and vendors.

Making it all come together are 200 volunteers, some of whom have been working on the 2018 Food Festival almost since the day the 2017 event ended.

One problem the organizers ran into last year and hope to have resolved this year is parking.

Hope Presbyterian Church and St. John’s Episcopal Church, both across the street from temple, will once again be available for parking with police stationed to safely escort festival goers across Belcher Road.

In addition, this year remote parking lots with shuttle service will be offered from Oak Grove Middle School, 1370 S. Belcher Road, and St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 1955 S. Belcher Road.

Two senior communities, The Preserve in Clearwater (formerly Inn on the Pond) and the Palms of Largo, have donated use of their buses and the temple has hired the Jolly Trolley to shuttle festival goers from the remote parking lots. The temple parking lot will only be available for those with handicap permits.

The food festival will occur rain or shine and there is no admission fee; food prices are posted on the event website,

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