For the first time, all segments of the Jewish community in Suffolk County have banded together for a free Lag B’Omer celebration Sunday called Springfest.
The event is to be held from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on the grounds of the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center, 74 Hauppauge Rd., Commack. It will feature music from the band Soultrain, and attendees will be able to dance on the open field in the Y’s backyard.
Because the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer is traditionally a time for barbecuing, Hunki’s of Plainview will be selling fleishig (glatt kosher meat) products cooked on barbecues. Vegetarian dishes will also be sold. All will be prepared under Orthodox rabbinic supervision by the Vaad of Queens.
Among some of the featured events will be:
♦ A show at 12:30 by BMX Exhibition in which cyclists will ride up and down ramps performing a variety of stunts.
♦ The New York Islanders will be setting up a slap booth for all to try.
♦ The New York Cosmos will have their own display to test the kicking prowess of soccer fans.
♦ A dunking booth will be set up to give attendees a change to dunk some of their favorite Jewish leaders.
The event was organized by the Eastern Long Island Jewish Alliance (ELIJA), which is comprised of all segments of the Jewish community, including the synagogues, the Suffolk Y, Hadassah, the Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Commack, and the Jewish War Veterans.
“We’re bringing everyone together so we can work together to reach all Jews in the county,” said Matt Kreinces, a co-chair of the alliance.
Rabbi Susie Moskowitz, associate rabbi of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, said the event is a “first step towards creating a more unified Jewish community in Suffolk County.”
“It’s founded on the principle that if we each strengthen our own community, we will all be strengthened by this collective energy,” she explained. “And that will allow more people to realize that we have a dynamic Jewish community in Suffolk County.”
Rabbi Steven Moss, the other co-chair of ELIJA and the spiritual leader of B’nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale, said that nearly 100 Suffolk organizations and individuals are on ELIJA’s mailing list and that Sunday’s event is sponsored by more than 18 organizations.
“We’re not going to just be planning events, but we plan to come together in order to be there for each other,” he said. “We need to network for each other.”
Rabbi Moss stressed that there is a “huge unaffiliated population” in Suffolk and that the group’s goal is to “bring them in and keep them.”
A population study sponsored by UJA-Federation of New York found that the Jewish population in Suffolk totaled 86,000 in 2011, down from 98,000 in 1991. It found also that the number of affiliated Jews in Suffolk has remained relatively flat — 36 percent in 2002 and 35 percent in 2011.
Among one of the first things ELIJA plans is the creation of a website that would help prevent the overlapping of major events and to inform the community about events they may wish to attend.