KaleidoFest brings week of events to JCC


KaleidoFest, a major component of Kaleidoscope Israel, will bring the community together for a week-long celebration at the JCC from May 3-8.

“There will be many exciting programs and events, but we hope the entire community will turn out for two especially meaningful ones,” said Rabbi Brad Horwitz, director of the Jewish Community Center’s Helene Mirowitz Department of Jewish Community Life. “Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for soldiers who died defending Israel and those who were victims of terrorism, and Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, are both commemorated and celebrated by everyone in Israel and our goal is for that to happen in St. Louis,” he added.

Yom Hazikaron begins with the sounding of a siren throughout Israel. The entire country comes to a complete standstill and observes a full minute of silence. Anyone who has experienced this moving observance in Israel knows what a powerful and emotional time it is. For 24 hours, the mood is somber and respectful.

“This year we hope to recreate that atmosphere in St. Louis. At 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 6, just as our fellow Jews in the State of Israel do, there will be shofars blown throughout the JCC as a signal to stop all activity and observe a minute of silence,” said Sue Lesser, chair of KaleidoFest Week. “Our hope is to have full participation throughout the community –whether you are in or out of the J — to honor the memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

“This is a first for the St. Louis Jewish Community of St. Louis and we hope it will become an annual tradition,” commented Diane Gallant, a co-chair of Kaleidoscope Israel.

“This moment will be followed by a special ceremony which will look back at each of the six decades of Israel’s existence. We are hoping to have an overflow crowd for this moving and momentous event,” said Sue Lesser.

The sad and solemn mood changes to an atmosphere of joy and jubilation on Wednesday, May 7, as the celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut begins. Here the “streets” of KaleidoFest will come alive as the doors open at 5 p.m. and vendors sell their wares. Participants can munch a hot dog or other refreshments as they wander the streets of the Old City. “You won’t believe you’re in the gym of the JCC and not in a Mid-Eastern marketplace,” commented Amy Gallant, a co-chair of Kaleidoscope.

The program begins at 6:45 p.m. with a musical play by the Israeli House called The Blue and White Brick Road, followed by the professional Israeli Dance Troupe, Hora Gil. The main attraction is Pini Cohen, a well-known Israeli singer with a warm and welcoming style that involves the audience.

Sue Lesser suggested buying tickets early since advance tickets are $8 per adult and $6 per child. At the door they are $10 for an adult but remain $6 for a child.

Rabbi Horwitz added, “Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut are just two of more than 14 KaleidoFest programs that will occur from May 3-8. Be sure to check out everything we have to offer; complete program information can be found at www.jccstl.org or on the KaleidoFest Calendar in the St. Louis Jewish Light.”

Kaleidoscope Israel, which includes KaleidoFest, is generously funded by the Lubin Green Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. KaleidoFest has been made possible through the generosity of Michael and Carol Staenberg, in conjunction with the Staenberg Family Foundation.

Download a calendar of KaleidoFest events