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Jewish Food Festival runs out of food, not fellowship

October 25, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The turnout for the Jewish Food Festival on Sunday was so good that by 2 p.m. Congregation B'nai Abraham had run out of food.

"It is a good problem to have," said Dan Greenwald, one of the cooks.

The event, a way to welcome people who are not Jewish into the synagogue and show them parts of the Jewish culture and faith, was scheduled to run from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., but people who showed up after 2 p.m. were out of luck.

Organizers estimated that 330 people ate at the festival. At times, more than 20 people were in line waiting to get food, event staff said.

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The festival was a project of the Hagerstown synagogue, 53 E. Baltimore St., from 1982 through 1999. It was started to raise money for congregation projects and to welcome people into the synagogue.

The event was brought back this year because people missed it, event organizers said.

Organizers had not expected so many people to come this year, said Allan Seidman, congregation president. The attendance the last year the event was held was about 250, and some had anticipated fewer people would attend because it had been a few years since the last festival, he said.

The opposite was true due to visitors like Ann Blickenstaff of Hagerstown, who said she went to the event in 1998 and 1999 and has been waiting for it to be held again.

"I would have been here if it happened," she said. "It is a very warm environment."

When she heard the event was being held again, she knew she had to return, she said.

She was disappointed when initially told the event was out of food completely, she said. But staff found some more food, including stuffed cabbage, and she was able to get a great meal, she said.

She comes to the festival because it provides a chance to eat food she can't normally get, she said.

Visitor Suzanne Beckwith of Smithsburg arrived at the festival after Blickenstaff.

Beckwith said she did not get any food "which was fine, because I did not just come for the food." She enjoys coming to the festival not just for the food but also to see friends who work at the festival and talk to some of the friendly synagogue members, she said.

"I like the idea of different faiths working together and being tolerant of each other," Beckwith said. "We need to respect each other's differences, especially today with so much hate."

Carole Lafferman Fitzwater, event chairwoman, said the food festival is important to both the synagogue and the community. The congregation members work together with a common goal, she said.

"I like it because the community comes to support the congregation," Seidman said.

Many of the foods sold are traditionally served on Jewish holidays, he said.

"Food is an important part of our tradition," he said

Seidman and Rabbi Fred Raskind also gave tours of the sanctuary and answered questions from visitors.

Some visitors were comparing their Christian faith to Judaism during the tour and noting the many similarities, Seidman said.

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