Whether to enjoy the music, books, art or food, some 900 guests of all ages gathered on Guilford, Conn.’s historic green Sunday for the fourth annual Shoreline Jewish Festival. Despite the gloomy weather forecast, families from across the state were able to partake of the eclectic blend of live music and children’s entertainment without a raindrop in sight.

“It’s really a fun family day and a great experience,” said Lynn Makara of Madison, Conn., who came with her family and served as one of 60 volunteers at the festival, which was coordinated by Chabad-Lubavitch of the Shoreline. “This was my third year coming [to the festival] and it’s really a great way to get Jewish people to come together. I always love the music and food.”

For Makara, who volunteered at a booth hawking hot knishes, there was no shortage of either tunes or grub. The Kabbalah Dream Orchestra headlined the festival, and local groups the Klezmenschen and the Klezmen also played. Children’s entertainer Rabbi Levi Welton performed his “Mr. Shabbos Show,” an educational program set to country and western and bluegrass-themed music.

Several kosher food stations offered falafel and pitas, barbeque, cotton candy, snow cones and doughnuts. The festival was sponsored by businessman Boris Mizhen and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.

“The falafel was absolutely fantastic and the music was something that everyone could enjoy,” raved David Schorr, who traveled more than two hours from Framingham, Mass., to volunteer at the festival with his daughters, who live in Connecticut. “People were arriving an hour before the performances began, and stayed until the end.”

Phyllis Tashman, a Guilford resident, found it particularly meaningful to volunteer with her daughter and son-in-law this year.

“It was my third year involved, and it’s very rewarding,” she said. “It’s fun and a good cause to be a participant in.”

More than 900 people of all ages turned out for the Aug. 9 concert and festival at the Guilford Green.
More than 900 people of all ages turned out for the Aug. 9 concert and festival at the Guilford Green.

Inspiration Through Music

According to Rabbi Yossi Yaffe, director of the local Chabad House, a music festival can be an ideal setting to connect with one’s roots.

“I can’t think of anything else that has as broad an appeal as Jewish music,” said Yaffe, who invited vendors to sell Jewish books, crafts, art and jewelry at the festival. “Music reveals the unique potential in every Jewish soul, and reaches beyond words to touch people’s hearts.”

Roz Himmelstein Etra of the Klezmenschen agreed.

“The music we play, klezmer and Yiddish and Hebrew traditional songs, reminds people of their mamas and their bubbes, and they tell us that hearing us brings back those sweet memories,” said Etra. “It was an honor for all of us to be a part of such a great festival, helping to create a community [of people] from all walks of life to appreciate Jewish culture. We love making music together and spreading that joy to others.”