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General News

Kehila Kedosha Janina Announces Program for Greek Jewish Festival

NEW YORK – Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum (KKJ) announced it will host the ninth annual Greek Jewish Festival on Sunday, May 19, 12-6 PM. The festival will take place in front of KKJ’s landmark historic synagogue at 280 Broome Street between Allen Street and Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

The Greek Jewish Festival celebrates and showcases the unique Romaniote and Sephardic heritage of the Jews of Greece. The festival offers a feast for the senses including authentic kosher Greek foods and homemade Greek pastries, live Greek and Sephardic musical performances with four different bands, two different traditional dance performances, an outdoor marketplace full of vendors, arts and educational activities for kids, Sephardic cooking demonstrations, and much more. This is the only festival of its kind in the world.

In past years the festival has attracted thousands of people, and more are expected this year as people are eager to come together and celebrate with new performers and community partners. KKJ is proud to collaborate with more than 30 different community organizations that include local, national, and international partners. Long-standing local partners include the Tenement Museum, the Museum at Eldridge Street, Lower East Side History Month, and Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, among others. National partners include the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America, the American Sephardi Federation, the Panepirotic Federation of America, Combat Antisemitism Movement, the University of Washington Sephardic Studies Program, and many other community institutions. New partners in 2024 include the National Hellenic Society, PJ Library, and renowned Chef Susan Barocas and the Savor Sephardic Music and Food Experience.

Live international performers will keep the music flowing and are guaranteed to get attendees up on their feet and dancing throughout the day. Melodies will span the Mediterranean and feature songs that cut across cultures and history, including Greek, Turkish, Ladino, Israeli, Cypriot, and other genres.

The performance schedule includes the Stavros Theodorou Orchestra at 12 PM, Hellenic Dancers of New Jersey at 1 PM, Noga Group featuring Avram Pengas at 2 PM, Hannah Belly Dance Performance at 3 PM, Sounds of Cyprus at 4 PM, and Habbina Habbina at 5 PM.

“As the only Greek Jewish Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, Kehila Kedosha Janina is thrilled to bring our community together to celebrate our phenomenal festival once again this year. Visitors will be guaranteed an afternoon of delight that celebrates the rich culture of Greek Jews,” said Marvin Marcus, President of KKJ. “As a Lower East Side native, I grew up experiencing different cultures among neighbors, and the Greek Jewish Festival is our way of sharing our traditions with the broader Lower East Side and New York community.”

“We’re thrilled and humbled that we’re going to take part in this year’s Greek Jewish Festival,” said Habbina Habbina musician Amit Peled. “Greek music plays such a huge role in my musical universe. The amount of inspiration and influence from artists such as Aris San on the development of modern Jewish music and the unique role of the guitar in it, is monumental. Not only does this music have such richness in style and material, but so much life! It feels like part of our band’s mission to play this music from every stage and bandstand, and keep it alive and relevant as it deserves to be. Our music is the ultimate mixture of sadness, laughter, and a full on celebration of life – join us on May 19 to experience it yourself!”

“No matter your ethnic, cultural, or religious background, there is something for you at our Greek Jewish Festival,” said Festival Director Andrew Marcus. “Join us and learn more about a community you may not have known existed, while enjoying our delicious foods and energetic music and dancing.”

“We are very excited to share our rich culture from Epirus at this year’s Greek Jewish Festival!” said John Katsimbaris, President of the Panepirotic Federation of America. “We are especially proud of Epirus’ rich art, food, and music, probably Europe’s oldest surviving folk music! This major multi-ethnic festival is sure to be a rewarding experience for all who join.”

“The Greek Jewish Festival has become our signature event of the year,” said Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos, Museum Director of KKJ. “I have seen the festival bring together extended families and friends, and this year is sure to reunite many more. Greek Jews have come from all over the country to eat our traditional foods, dance to Greek music on the tenement-lined Lower East Side streets where our families first arrived as immigrants, and to remember what makes us so special.”

“The Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America is thrilled to continue to partner with KKJ,” said Sedat Behar, President of the Sephardic Jewish Brotherhood of America. “We are very proud of our heritage and this festival helps bring together our Sephardic and Romaniote communities in an incredible way. It is exciting to see the festival grow every year and we look forward to continuing the revitalization of our community.”

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