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Jewish culture to get a lift at annual ‘Rejoice’ festival
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Jewish culture to get a lift at annual ‘Rejoice’ festival

Noam Katz will be among the performers at Rejoice: Jewish Music and Culture Festival.
Noam Katz will be among the performers at Rejoice: Jewish Music and Culture Festival.

The third annual Rejoice: Jewish Music and Culture Festival will once again bring together performers, vendors, and Jewish organizations for a day of fun and entertainment.

Organizers of the Sept. 26 festival, to be held Woodlot Park in the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick, hope to top last year’s crowd of 4,000.

“This year we are preparing for and hope for 5,000 people,” said Aaron Rosloff of South Brunswick, a cochair and originator of the event. “It will be all the same, but different, because we have different artists this year — and more food.”

Those attending the free event will be treated to a varied range of Jewish music. This year an Israeli dancing segment will be added as will an expanded food selection featuring glatt kosher as well as kosher food.

“That was a request from some of our Orthodox community, so we are adding vendors,” said Cantor Bruce Rockman of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick, the primary sponsoring synagogue, and an event chair.

In addition to Lox, Stock & Deli of Milltown, glatt kosher food will be offered by Galaxy Kosher Market in Old Bridge and Reuben’s Glatt Spot of West Orange, under the supervision of the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of MetroWest.

The 89-year-old Rosloff and his family put up a “significant” initial contribution to stage the event, fulfilling a longtime dream. “My original thought was to demystify Jewish culture and music for our neighbors and I think we’ve succeeded in reaching out to the non-Jewish community,” he said. “Everyone is welcome. All we ask is that you bring a non-perishable item for the South Brunswick Food Pantry, which is so in need now.”

Festival goers will be able to shop at a vendors’ market offering everything from Judaica to jewelry and browse at information tables for synagogues, schools, and community organizations. For youngsters there will be an obstacle course, hoops shooting, face-painting, and entertainment, including Miss Lisa, Inc., a Philadelphia group that spreads education and Yiddishkeit through acrobatics.

‘Outrageously hip’

The annual event is cosponsored by a number of area synagogues, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the township of South Brunswick, Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.

After introductions and welcoming at 11 a.m., the festival will be opened by Kol Halayla, the Jewish a cappella choir of Rutgers University. At noon, the Sons of Tikvah Band, headed by Rockman, will perform its lively mix of Jewish music.

Shira Kline with ShirLaLa, a New York-based performer and music educator who plays “outrageously hip Jewish kiddie rock” will take the stage at 1 p.m. sharing “her love of Jewish life and prayer.” Kline has performed internationally and released three albums for Hanukka, Passover, and Shabbat.

Israeli dancing will follow at 2:20, and at 2:45, Noam Katz, who has performed in Africa, North America, and Israel, will hit the stage. A popular song leader at Reform summer camps and at youth group conventions, Katz is completing his rabbinic education at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles.

He has released three albums and in 2003 spent three months with the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda and often shares their story and music with audiences “incorporating the message of Jewish unity and tikun olam.”

The final act at 4:30 will be Eric Komar, a singer, guitarist, and songwriter who will release his third CD in October. He is currently music and youth chorale director at Temple Beth-El in Hillsborough.

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