Israelfest Expands to Keep Up With Attendance

by Alex Wehrung May 1, 2019


israelfest-3The Jewish Federation of San Diego will be holding its annual Israelfest on June 2, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m at Liberty Station, in celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut—Israeli Independence Day. The event promises to give participants a taste of Israel, featuring Israeli food, music and dance. The Federation Israel and Overseas Director Miri Ketayi described the event as experiencing “Israel through the senses.”

Other festival activities will include face painting, Henna tattoos, bounce-houses, artisan booths, a beer garden and more. The Federation hopes to incentivize its community partners to create more activities for the event by marking down the price of activity booths by 40 percent, in order to account for an upswing in attendance over the past few years.

“Building up since last year, when the number of participants attending doubled from 1400 to 3200, we hope to grow even more this year,” Miri said. “We’re expecting a lot more people, mainly families. The activities will be targeted towards families, and all age groups, actually—from little children to adults.”

To account for the increased festival attendance, the Federation will be doubling the number of food and drink vendors. They are also making efforts to simplify entrance into the festival. Attendees will still be scanned with security wands and have their bags checked upon entering the festival.

2018 marked the first year when the Jewish Federation of San Diego partnered with the Israeli American Council, in order to help fulfill a vision of linking San Diego with Israel. “The Federation believes in the importance of building strong bridges with Israel, along with fostering meaningful and enduring connections between the San Diego community and our homeland,” Miri said. “This year’s festival will also be focused on strengthening internal bridges, joining with other local organizations to celebrate Israel, and to create a sense of global commitment to Israel and the Jewish peoplehood.”

This year, Israelfest will be adding a dose of spectacle to its program. Dance teacher Lillian Elbaz will coordinate a flash mob, which will allow children in the community to come together and dance.

“We [also] have two emissaries here from Israel to spend a year in San Diego to do community service,” Miri said, referring to Shinshinim Amit Katz and Michal Sharon. “They’ll be featured in the flash mob dance, working with the students. They’re two Israeli high school graduates who, before joining the Israeli army, they have a gap year to do service in the San Diego community. So these two lovely, wonderful girls are going to be featured at the festival as well, and will be actively supporting the dance and other stations at the event.”

Israel Fest also plans to feature several musical acts, such as the CaliBear Band, an Israeli rock group local to San Diego, amongst others. The Federation is still planning the various musical acts for the festival.

When asked if there were any plans to expand Israelfest, Miri said, “Always.”

“We always want to make it bigger and stronger, feature as much as we can about Israel and bring as many people as possible. We really wanted to have this true celebration and show the community our support of Israel and the strong relationship and connection we have with Israel.”

“It is going to be a wonderful event and these people really want to see what Israel is about, how it feels, to be in Israel. There’ll be some really great Israeli food and activities, [that will] help us build bridges with Israel and the Israeli community. This is the place to be.”


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