ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – With COVID restrictions easing up, more events are making a come back. The Jewish Food Festival started back up in May and will continue throughout November 2021.
The festival began in 2010, with the halls and lawns of the Congregation Kol Ami decorated like the East Side and booths set up with culture-rich menus. Each vendor would sell what they loved best, whether it was pastries or sandwiches.
Due to the remaining COVID restrictions, the festival is only able to produce one dish, or “nosh,” for the community each month, and no in person activities are permitted. Each dish offered this year is a specialty that would have been found in one of the booths from a normal year.
The congregation takes pride in their safety measures so far, not only with the preparation of the food, but also in how customers pick up the food. When the time comes to pick up food, the customers wait outside and their nosh is brought to them.
When asked what the festival gives the community besides the delicious food, Suzanne Hesselson, a previous president of the festival, said, “It’s wonderful because it brings all of us together that love being together. I love to cook. I love to bake, so this gives me the opportunity to fulfill that.”
Hesselson also mentioned how it brings together her own congregation. In preparation of making the Knishes, the Nosh for August, the team had to “… peel over eighty pounds of potatoes.” Once that was done, they had to put everything together. “Everything is very fresh” she continued, “nothing is processed.”
So far, the festival has seen tremendous support, with over one hundred orders each month of fan favorites. Hesselson hopes that with the current accommodations, the festival will stay alive and people will remain excited. Their hope is that “… when and if we can [meet in person again], the people will come back.”
The festival work as a fundraiser for the congregation, however portions of the profit will be donated to the Elmira Community Kitchen and the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.