The Heart and Soul of Jewish Chicago

It's a festival year! The Greater Chicago Jewish Festival returns on Sunday, June 10'th. Also, Bare Naked Ladies lead singer Brandon Paige will be at the event, among other guests.

Steven Page, former lead singer of Canadian alternative rockers Barenaked Ladies, will headline an eclectic music mix Sunday, June 10, at the Greater Chicago Jewish Festival in Morton Grove.

While Page has performed all over the world, winning fame and critical acclaim as the lead singer/songwriter of Toronto-based Barenaked Ladies, many fans don’t know that — since leaving the group in 2009 to pursue a solo career — Page has drawn from his Jewish heritage to write several songs that speak from this very important side of his personal life.

He will perform those songs along with selections from the Barenaked Ladies days and other music from his solo career, headlining a jam-packed and varied lineup showcasing various aspects of Judaism on four stages at the Cook County Forest Preserve on Oakton Street west of Lehigh Street in Morton Grove.

The Greater Chicago Jewish Festival, produced biannually since 1980, features Page and a panoply of Jewishperformers, arts, crafts, dance, kosher food and kids activities. The festival will kick off at 11 a.m.  June 10, running through 6 p.m.

“We offer what no other music festival can offer, “ said Michael Lorge, founder and chair of the Festival’s production group. “It’s an opportunity for mainstream performers to offer up their mainstream music. The ultimate crossover.”

Besides nonstop music, the festival will have a storytelling stage, a children’s activities area, dance performance, and a strictly kosher food fair featuring vendors offering kosher pizza, hot dogs, falafel and unusual food treats.  

Laura Frankel, the executive chef for Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering at Chicago’s Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies, will demonstrate how to make the best, tastiest Jewish dishes.

The musical lineup at the Festival includes:

  • ·         Blue Fringe, a New York-based, hard-pounding band with a longstanding commitment to traditional Judaism
  • ·         Soul Aviv, a California band that has created its own Jewish “gospel” sound
  • ·         Rabbi Joe Black, a Colorado performer whose style ranges from liturgical music of the heart to humorous children’s music
  • ·         Moishe Skier, hard rockers from Milwaukee
  • ·         Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, Chicago’s premier Jewish concert band
  • ·         Well-known Chicago acts Stuart Rosenberg, Tracy Friend & Andy Dennon,  Shakshuka, Ruby Harris, Listen Up!, Kol Sasson
  • ·         And many others

In between performances, attendees can walk the Festival grounds through a juried art show, where 100 artists from around the world will show and sell all manner of art, including paintings, soft sculpture, jewelry and other wearable art. Artists include Ketuba (marriage contract) calligraphers, weavers and ceramists.

The children’s activity area will include a family stage along with a variety of hands-on activities for kids.

“We create a kind of town square of Jewish Chicago, where people meet, sing and eat, and get to appreciate Jewishculture,” Lorge said. “It is just a kick to throw a party for 20,000 folks and know that for that day, everyone gets along and enjoys the music, dance and art.”

The Festival is produced by the Jewish POCET (Production Organization of Cultural Events and Theater),  an all-volunteer, not-for-profit production group.

“We started the Festival in 1980, partially to explore evolving expressions in Jewish identity in America and partially to demonstrate that as a community we can gather not just when there is a need to respond to community crises,” Lorge explained.

The festival has become the largest event in Chicago’s Jewish community and is also the longest-running Jewishfestival in America.

Plenty of free parking will be available. A free shuttle bus will bring festival-goers to the main gate. Entrance to theFestival is free, but a $5 donation can help the organizers defray costs.

For more information or to see the entire lineup, call the Festival at (847)-933-3000 or visit www.jewishfestival.org.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jon Schneider June 06, 2012 at 03:42 PM
Looking forward to it!
Gab Lis June 10, 2012 at 04:02 AM
I wish I was there for this year's Jewish Festival and every other one, afterwards !!! Gabriel.


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