This past weekend, an annual gathering of young and old Jewish professionals, enthusiasts and celebrators gathered to revel in each other’s company. Jewlicious Festival that encourages Jewish youth to both engage and incorporate Judaism into their lives by giving them an opportunity to speak to Jewish role models, entrepreneurs, scholars and friends in an open, fun and free forum. It’s a weekend long festivity with food, music and talks in all areas of young and Jewish life.
Friday began with an open art area and a café that allowed the attendees to explore the boat and grab a bite to eat while meeting each other and getting acquainted. The night really began during the sunset yoga sessions followed by multiple services offered to match any religious level. After the Shabbat feast and some much needed peer bonding (food has a way of doing that, especially in Jewish culture), we all headed into the evening’s main attraction: TED-style talks. The talks revolved around edgy and current topics like entrepreneurship, Jewish lust and erotica and even social media. Going on at the same time as the TED talks were a talk on business stuff by Elia and one on tattoos and Judaism by Rabbi Drew Kaplan. The night culminated in a talk by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on “Kosher Lust” and other dating advice. Though some of the talks led to shocking and occasionally uncomfortable places, they were all the more interesting and insightful for having done so.
Shabbat continued on Saturday with more yoga, meditation and services of all kinds. Rabbi Drew also led a discussion on the four cups of wine at the Passover Seder. The main event of the morning was a more than moving visit from Megan & Grace Phelps, two ex-congregants of the Westboro Baptist church. These two amazing girls candidly spoke on their emotional and spiritual journey from leaving their family to arriving at Jewlicious Festival. Candice Lebowitz, a CSULB student, said that “they are inspiring because they said to stick to your beliefs and to not let others take control over your life, they have that incentive to fight for what we believe in.”
After lunch, a few more talks were offered concerning relationships, mentorships and puppy ownership to fit any interest a Jewlicious Festival attendee may have. Just before dinner, the second major talk of the day occurred with Rob Eshman, publisher and Editor In-Chief of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and Consul General David Siegal. The two men chatted about diversity and current affairs in Israel, the negatives and positives. We then gathered for a beautiful musical Havdallah service by candlelight and filled with singing and dancing. Dinner was served with a series of hilarious screen shorts by Jessie Kahnweiler called “Dude, Where’s My Chutzpah?”. The night was capped by a boat-rocking concert with the famous Rami Jaffee playing with Jonny Kaplan and the Lazy Stars and an epic dance party. Zach Katona, another CSULB student, summed up the night very well, by saying “no matter what music is playing, the people at Jewlicious Festival know how to have fun and get down.”
Sunday began with a morning service out on the deck in the sunshine and a bagel brunch. Rabbi Drew led a discussion on Jewish wisdom about sleep, which was particularly appropriate, since we everbody hadn’t gotten enough sleep during the weekend. Everyone took advantage of the wonderful weather and hung out outside for mimosas and some talks regarding medical marijuana and how to stay involved in festivities like Jewlicious. Sunday ended with a lively and fun Samba carnival with dancers on stilts, drums and of course lots of audience participation.
The weekend was a roaring success for all those who attended and spoke. Young Jewish adults from all over were able to come together and enjoy not only each other’s company, but explore their own Jewishness and learn from Jewish leaders and mentors. Everyone who was in attendance took home something vital, whether it be a new friend or a new outlook on their own Jewish identity.