For decades, hosting an Israel Independence Day celebration has been a tradition of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the Simon JCC family. This day is Yom Ha’Atzmaut, marking May 14, 1948.
For two years, the pandemic has forced organizers to be more creative. In 2020, the festival took place via Zoom. In 2021, people walked through the grounds and stopped at Israel-themed carports.
Well, it’s 2022 – and the staff is ready to welcome the community back in person on May 1. JCC likes to celebrate on Sunday afternoons close to the original date so that families and people of all faiths can participate. Internationally, the day is celebrated on May 4 and 5.
“It’s like taking a trip to Israel without getting on the plane,” said Sierra Lautman, director of Jewish innovation at the federation and the JCC.
Expect shopping in the open-air market reminiscent of “shuks” in Israel. Ride a camel through an imaginary desert. Eat cotton candy infused with Israeli flavors. Get a massage at the “Dead Sea” wellness spa (masks required and available).
Watch Meat Carneval take over the culinary scene just like in Tel Aviv. Gili Ben Shahar and Ohad Kvity will be in town to host the party and hold interactive cooking demonstrations. (Lautman: “They believe eating food should be a whole-body experience.”) Readers can take a look at Meat Carneval’s Instagram page.
In a note posted on the festival’s website, the chefs said: “We’re going to bring together all the flavors, smells, textures and sounds that we love – that lit that fire in all of us – and put them in front of the wonderful people of Tidewater, Va. We look forward to sharing this experience with all of you.
Now, who doesn’t love a meat carnival? OK, for those who don’t, vegetarian options are available.
The menu features traditional Mediterranean dishes such as hummus, baba ghanoush and marinated steak. But also think of the arayes, a grilled pita with kebab served with tahini; beef stew, pulled beef in Israeli barbecue sauce; dates stuffed with beef; or sabich, an eggplant salad served in a pita. Grab a fruit smoothie to wash down this delight.
When: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on May 1
Or: Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus and Simon Family JCC, 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Virginia Beach. All events outside. No mandatory mask except for the wellness massage.
Tickets: Open to the public. Free entry and parking. Tickets required for food and some activities.
— Rekaya Gibson, [email protected]