Chanukah begins early this year but you can get a jump on the festivities by attending what promises to be an eclectic and interesting day at the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy Fifth Jewish Heritage Festival on Sunday, November 3. The all-day festival features events that will please a range of tastes: walking tours exploring neighborhood synagogues, including three of the oldest synagogues in New York City; a vintage goods benefit sale and a special presentation, “Gals From the Hood.”
The festival will also showcase an exhibit by Shoshanah Brombacher entitled “The Colors of Chanukah,” in which the artist explores Chasidic-Jewish themes and folklore. Brombacher’s background as a maggidah, (a combination of preacher, story teller and spiritual guide) is reflected in the works, with their figurative yet phantasmagoric narrative style.
Originally from Amsterdam, Brombacher cites both Rembrandt and the Dutch 17th century printmakers as inspiration, although many of the pastels clearly evoke shades of Chagall with a strong calligraphic element included. A centerpiece of the exhibition is “The Mystical Lion,” featuring symbolic icons portraying the Chanukah story and ultimately the historical resilience of the Jewish people. Another work, “Draydels” displays the whimsical nature of Chanukah; these and many of the works will be appealing and accessible to children and adults alike.
The child of Holocaust survivors, nevertheless Brombacher eschews focusing on the negative, preferring to spotlight the joyful nature of Judaism. Chanukah, a Jewish holiday that demands little but joy and celebration seems an appropriate backdrop to that philosophy.
The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy Fifth Jewish Heritage Festival will take place on Sunday, November 3, 2013, beginning at 10:45 AM at the LESJC Kling & Niman Family Visitor Center, 400 Grand Street, between Clinton and Suffolk Streets. Admission for all tours is $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors and available. Children ages 8 and under tour for free. Private, customized tours are available by appointment. For more information about the LESJC, call 212-374-4100.
Gloria Kestenbaum is a corporate communications consultant and freelance writer.