At the Ohavi Zedek Synagogue in Burlington, Vermont’s Jewish community got a taste of their heritage on Sunday.
Jewish organizations across northern Vermont organized the first ‘Northern Nosh’ Jewish food festival, which brought hundreds to the Queen City.
“It is intended to bring people together,” event organizer Susan Leff said. “I’ve done other kinds of events, and I said, ‘If i want everyone to come, what i need to do is feed them and give them some music.’”
In 2011, Leff founded Jewish Communities of Vermont, an organization that coordinates events to bring synergy to Judaism-followers in the state. Now retired, she organized Sunday’s event in hopes of recreating that synergy that was largely lost during the pandemic.
“The Jewish community was very siloed,” she said. “Everybody did things for their own community and didn’t get together. This is an amazing, amazing example of how it can happen when the community comes together.”
Through the tastes of Jewish cuisine and the sounds of Grammy-award winning artist Joanie Leeds, those that showed were grateful to interact with friends they’ve missed.
“I love all the people here, i love the variety of food,” said Marion Kushner, a Williston resident. “This is food my mother made, my grandmother made…you see people we haven’t seen in two years, almost three years from covid.”
Jon Gailmor, a renowned local singer-songwriter who performed and helped kids write songs, said he relishes the opportunity to help his Jewish peers celebrate their heritage.
“Diversity and symbiosis…working together, feeding off each other, and that’s what the songwriting process does and is all about,” he said. “Every group of kids and grown-ups, there is a group chemistry and a group dynamic that is beyond belief.”
More than 25 volunteers prepared the array of food for the two weeks leading up to Sunday’s festival, making sure there was enough to go around.
“You have a vision of what you want to have happen, and then it happens,” Leff said. “I see plates full of food everywhere.”
Kushner’s good friend, Lorraine Lapin, said she hopes to see Leff bring the festival back in 2023.
“We got a wonderful turnout here, I think that proves that something like this is needed,” she said.