The first Kenosha Jewish Community Festival will take place Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. at Nash Park and will offer fun, food and relaxation for all ages.
The free festival hosted and organized by the Jewish Community Foundation of Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois will feature Israeli music, a bounce house, crafts, snow cones, face painting and other games.
There will be kosher falafel and hot dogs available for purchase, along with chips and drinks.
According to Rivkie Wilschanski, wife of Rabbi Tzali Wilschanski of The Chabad of Kenosha, the Jewish Community Foundation supports not-for-profit Jewish and secular social service agencies globally, nationally and in the local community through their annual fundraising campaigns.
“Our all-volunteer board is comprised of members and the rabbis from all three local temples, Beth Hillel, Chabad of Kenosha and Beth Israel Sinai in Racine,” she explained.
The foundation has origins dating to 1914 as The Federated Jewish Charities in Kenosha. A reorganization in 1938 renamed the organization the Kenosha Welfare Fund and in 2006, the organization merged with its sister organization in Racine to become the Kenosha-Racine Jewish Welfare Fund. Six years later, the fund was renamed to its current title, the Jewish Community Foundation of Southeastern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois and aptly refers to its regional membership reach.
The foundation’s purpose is to raise funds for Jewish philanthropic purposes, including major Jewish institutions in North America, Israel and around the world, including the Jewish Federations of North America. The foundation also supports Jewish education, youth and college services, food pantries and social service endeavors in their geographical area.
“The goal of this festival is to raise awareness of the important Jewish value of Tzedakah — charitable giving — and to allow people to come together to see what they can get involved with and help with in our local community,” said Rivkie. “Tzedakah, often translated as charity, is a mainstay of Jewish life. The sages teach that the world was built upon kindness. Tzedakah goes one step beyond. Literally translated as ‘justice’ or ‘righteousness,’ Tzedakah tells us that sharing what we have with others isn’t something special, it is the honest and just thing to do. Tzedakah is not limited to gifts of money. Sharing time, expertise or even a kind smile are all forms of charity.”
Representatives from local organizations supported by the Jewish Community Foundation will be available with tables at the festival to share their information.
“Those that can will be sending representatives to join, and some have sent in pamphlets and information for us to display,” said Rivkie.
Local organizations supported through the Jewish Community Foundation are:
Local Jews in Need: Support of area rabbis to be used for emergency assistance for local Jews
Shalom Center of the Interfaith Network, Kenosha: Provides emergency food, shelter, housing and support in ways that meet immediate needs.
Racine County Food Bank: Distribution of food and necessities to Racine County individuals and families in need, through a network of direct service providers.
Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization (HALO): Committed to preventing chronic homelessness in Racine County by meeting shelter needs, coordinating supportive services and providing community leadership.
Racine Interfaith Coalition (RIC): Racine based interfaith organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of social problems and lead to new ways.
Hospice Alliance Inc., Kenosha: Dedicated to caring for the terminally ill and empowering those who support them.
Congregations United to Serve Humanity (CUSH): Kenosha based organization to support interfaith collaboration around social issues.
Kenosha Achievement Center: Creates opportunities for the personal growth and success of persons with special needs by providing quality service and products in the community utilizing innovative ideas, both in programs and in business.
“We hope the community gains a stronger sense and feeling of commitment and involvement in helping to support our community in Tzedakah, giving in all ways we can,” said Rivkie.
In addition to food, and Israeli music, a group of Israeli dance leaders will be performing and teaching Israeli dance steps to interested participants.
Adults and children will enjoy a variety of crafts, such as decorating a charity box to bring home and fill, explained Rivkie.
“We also have sand art kits of charity themed pictures,” she said. “And Quilts for Kindness; each person decorates a (quilt) square which will be sewn into blankets that are given to children in hospitals. This project is from Project Linus.
If you go
What: Jewish Community Festival
When: Noon to 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: Nash Park, 6022 60th St.
Who: The free festival is open to all. Food available for purchase. Bring balls, frisbees and lawn games.