Kehila Kedosha Janina is Planning a ‘Greek Jewish Festival’ for the Springtime

Posted on: January 5th, 2015 at 5:27 am by

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Kehila Kedosha Janina on Broome St.

There was a time when the neighborhood hosted an annual Lower East Side Jewish Festival on East Broadway, but those days are long gone. Instead we’ve seen the more niche “Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival” the last fourteen years at the Eldridge Street Synagogue. Now its brethren up the bend seeks to revive more of that cultural mojo. Time has come for a Greek Jewish Festival, the first of its kind, and also in a Chinese neighborhood.

The landmark Kehila Kedosha Janina on Broome Street is planning said Greek Jewish Festival for May 31, 2015 directly outside its doors. Sponsored by the 87-year-old tenement synagogue, the event promises a celebration of “the unique heritage of this historic community through traditional food, music, and community groups.” That includes live Greek, Sephardic, and Israeli music alongside traditional Romaniote and Sephardic foods.

Festivities require a full street closure between Allen and Eldridge, from the hours of 8am to 6pm. Community Board 3 is set to hear the measure later this month.

“We wanted to host this new festival to increase our community engagement with both our neighbors on Broome Street as well as with the broader community,” organizer Andrew Marcus told us in an email. “With so many changes in our neighborhood, and as one of only a few remaining active synagogues in the area, we are continually trying to perpetuate our unique traditions and Greek Jewish culture as well as work to maintain the special history of the Lower East Side.”

Marcus also noted that they’re seeking other local businesses and organizations that are interested in participating. “We are already collaborating with the Lower East Side BID and are in the process of partnering with other organizations on the LES.”

Kehila Kedosha Janina began in 1907 when families from the Greek town of Janina (Ioannina) organized a congregation. The current facility was not erected until 1927, and is the only Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. It remains one of the only Jewish congregations in the neighborhood with an active minyan (prayer) on Saturday mornings.

The building received landmark status in 2004, and underwent a major renovation two years later.

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