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2019-02-08 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 8, 2019  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Tampa Bay Jewish Food Festival in Clearwater promises to be bigger, better than ever

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press

When the inaugural Jewish Food Festival at Temple B’nai Israel in Clearwater exceeded expectations in 2017 and the food supply ran out early in the afternoon, planners doubled the food quantity for last year’s festival and still ran short of food.

Now comes the third annual event at the temple on Sunday, Feb. 24, from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and organizers are hopeful they will be able to send everyone home happy and full.

“Our third Annual Food Fest is poised to be one for the record books. We have expanded the menu and tripled our food. One of the biggest coup’s is the addition of Junior’s cheesecakes. Come hungry,” advised festival co-chair Sharon Finkelstein.

From the start, the festival has been one of the biggest events in the Pinellas Jewish community, drawing about 1,500 the first year and about 4,000 last year, with perfect weather conditions both times.

So long as the weather is good, planners are expecting even more folks to show up, but aren’t hazarding a guess as to how many. No matter, the festival will go on rain or shine.

Each year the marquee menu item is Carnegie Deli pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, but there are always lots of homemade bakery items and Jewish standards - matzoh ball soup, bagels, lox, noodle kugel, knishes and stuffed cabbage.

Lenny’s restaurant will offer latkes and added to the menu this year are blintzes, white fish, hummus, tongue, vegetarian chopped liver and Junior’s cheesecake. There will also be a variety of beverages, including craft beer from the 3 Daughters Brewery in St. Petersburg.

As in the past there will be tented areas to offer shade for those eating outside, and takeout items are also available.

There will again be a wide variety of vendors and booths showcasing community organizations including new this year the Pinellas County Consumer Protection Agency. Among other additions this year, the Largo Police Department will set up its Central Command Unit for tours and the OneBlood bus be there for folks wishing to donate blood.

For the younger set, there will be a kid’s zone with crafts and other fun activities as well as a PJ Library booth.

Live music will be provided by a local band, Mazel Tov Cocktail. Also performing will be The Cantorettes, comprised of Cantors Deborrah Cannizzaro, Beth Schlossberg and Tanya Greenblatt and accompanied by Robert Jarosh.

Admission to the Food Festival is free with costs for food ranging in price from a black and white cookie for a dollar to $15 for a corned beef or pastrami sandwich platter.

Those attending the festival are encouraged to being nonperishable food items to donate to food banks run by Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services and the Religious Community Services organization.

Save for handicapped spaces in the back of the temple, there will be no parking for the public, but two churches across the street, Hope Presbyterian and St. Johns Episcopal, are opening their parking lots to festival visitors. Police officers will control traffic so folks can safely cross to the festival.

There will also be free shuttles from remote parking lots at Oak Grove Middle School, 1370 S. Belcher Road, and St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 1955 S. Belcher Road.

The temple is located at 1685 S. Belcher Road.

As usual, an army of volunteers has been marshalled to prepare for and work at the event – about 150 in all. Co-chairs Finkelstein, Barbara Bloom, director of membership engagement, and temple administrator Angela Wachtler have logged countless hours preparing for the Food Festival.

“We could not be more proud of the extraordinary effort everyone has put forth during a very trying year for our staff and congregants,” said Bloom, referencing the loss of their spiritual leader, Rabbi Daniel Treiser, to brain cancer last August.

“Just as Temple Beth-El has had its annual art festival for many years as a major fundraiser for its congregation, Temple B’nai Israel is hoping the Jewish Food Festival will become its signature fundraising event and that the community can count on us yearly for a wonderful Jewish experience,” she said.

The Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties presented the temple with a grant to offset costs for marketing, transportation and tents.

“We are so thankful they continue to support this event,” Bloom said, adding “We are hoping to get increased involvement from local Jewish organizations and hope in time each congregation will cook their own Jewish item to offer at the festival.”

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