Jewish Arts Festival, Mah Jongg and so much more

The Maccabeats will be one of several musical acts performing at the Sababa festival Oct. 14.   

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

As we look to October, a whole lot is happening in the St. Louis Jewish community. Here are a few events and programs you may want to note on your calendars:

Sababa Jewish Arts Festival: The inaugural Sababa festival is set for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14 at Washington University on the lot adjacent to the Danforth University Center (6475 Forsyth Blvd.) outside the Olin Business School’s Simon Hall.

Planning for this local Jewish arts festival began more than a year ago, with the intent of showcasing today’s vibrant Jewish culture. The word “sababa” is modern Hebrew slang for “awesome” or “cool,” which is exactly what this outdoor, family-friendly festival will strive to be with visual art exhibitors, culinary experiences and musical performances. 

As for the latter, here’s the lineup:

• Noon: Will Soll (mandolin, guitar, tenor banjo and vocalist) and his band, the Youngers of Zion

• 1:30 p.m.: Nefesh Mountain, where bluegrass meets Jewish heritage and tradition. 

• 3 p.m.: The Maccabeats. Originally formed in 2007 as Yeshiva University’s student vocal group, the Maccabeats have emerged as both Jewish music and a cappella phenomena, with a large fan base and four albums. 

• 4:30 p.m.: Zusha, a Jewish-American folk-rock trio combining traditional Hasidic nigunim song styles with folk, soul, rock and reggae.

In addition, more than 25 artists will showcase their works ranging from ceramics, glass, paint, metalwork and fiber. Plenty of kosher and non-kosher food will be available, too, including Kohn’s, Mediterranean Grill, Crispy Edge, Turn, Revel, Seedz, Serendipity, Meshuggah, Garbanzo, Hot Box Cookies, the Dapper Doughnut, Posh Nosh, Cafe Coeur and Jon Rubin’s Kosher BBQ.

Admission to the festival is free, with food and art available for purchase. Oh, and be sure to stop by the Jewish Light booth to sign up for a free subscription to the paper and play “Hug the Editor.” As it so happens, Oct. 14 is my birthday, and I’ll be doling out free hugs to mark the occasion.

For more information, go to

Miles & Miles of Tiles Mah Jongg Tournament:  The Light’s inaugural mah jongg tournament will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Sheraton Clayton Plaza Hotel, 7730 Bonhomme Ave.

The hope is that this daylong mah jongg tournament, will become an annual event. Registrants can choose between competitive and fun/beginner mahj play; the competitive track offers cash prizes for the winners while non-competitive track winners will be awarded noncash prizes. 

Each track will play four rounds of four games each. A kosher lunch is included in the $45 registration.  For more information and to register, call Susan Scribner at 314-913-1200 or

Third Annual St. Louis Kosher BBQ Cookoff: Sanctioned by Kansas City BBQ Society, the granddaddy of all barbecue outfits, the event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21 at Nusach Hari B’nai Zion, 650 N. Price Road. 

The cookoff will feature 10 teams competing for cash prizes, along with a barbecue-related silent auction, pickle and hot wing eating contests, a car show and kid’s activities. 

Kosher barbecue to buy and sample include 200 pounds of chicken wings, 40 pounds of smoked brisket, 20 pounds of drumsticks and smoked apple cobbler. Admission is free. 

For more information, go to

Not to mention events outside the Jewish community… 

Oasis and the Missouri Historical Society are presenting “University For a Day,” in honor of Marylen Mann, founder of Oasis and recipient of the society’s Thomas Jefferson Society Award. Oasis works to promote healthy aging through lifelong learning, active living and volunteer engagement. 

The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. Four, one-hour sessions will cover topics such as local history, health, politics and the psychology of happiness. Speakers and panelists include Marvin-Alonzo Greer of Soldiers Memorial Military Museum; Dr. Eric C. Leuthardt from the Center for Innovation in Neuroscience and Technology and Brain Laser Center; Michael Wolff, former Missouri Supreme Court Judge and Chief Justice and Dean Emeritus of St. Louis University Law School and Timothy J. Bono, from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Washington University.

The cost of “University For a Day,” with lunch included, is $30; $25 for Oasis members. The lectures, without lunch, are $15. To register and for more information, call 314-361-9017 or go to

In no particular order, here are a few other happenings worth checking out:

• Students Sing Sondheim, in conjunction with renowned composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim being named the 2018 St. Louis Literary Award honoree by St. Louis University. Sondheim will receive the award at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Sheldon Concert Hall in Grand Center. Only a wait list option is open for concert hall seating, but there are tickets for the $100 reception still available. Visit for more information.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, select students from area high school students will perform Sondheim favorites, and at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, students from area colleges will do the same. Both programs are free and will be presented in the St. Louis University Theatre located in Xavier Hall, 3733 West Pine Mall, on the SLU campus.

• Dance the Vote, from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, on the steps of the Missouri History Museum, with a Michael Jackson community dance at 1 p.m.

This project brings together local artists from nearly a dozen local dance companies who want to get St. Louisans registered to vote before the Oct. 10Missouri voter registration deadline for the upcoming Nov. 6 general election. Spearheaded by Joan Lipkin, artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company and Ashley Tate, artistic director of Ashleyliane Dance Company, the choreography will be based on various themes of the voting experience, including those of African Americans, women and people with disabilities.

• Walk to End Alzheimer’s will take place at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28 beginning at the Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark St. Pre-walk festivities kick off at 1:30 p.m. For more information, call Anthony Burt at 314-801-0046 or go to