Have you ever tasted fresh baked rugelach? It’s a warm bread pastry, rolled up with cinnamon, sugar, pecans, chocolate chips, and jams. It’s flaky and somehow still gooey in the center, and the only thing that’s better than the taste is maybe the smell. Hungry? Well on the last Sunday of every October come feed that craving at the Shalom Y’all Jewish Food Festival, held annually by the Congregation of Mickve Israel. This festival is reaching its 25th year and is only getting bigger: the turn out is said to be an average of 10,000 people, and the synagogue employs over 200 volunteers to make the festival as delicious as it can be! Held from noon to early evening, this event takes place in Savannah’s beautiful Forsyth Park, in view of the lawns, historic homes, and beautiful Forsyth fountain. So come early with a blanket, set up underneath one of the towering oak trees, and enjoy the fall afternoon with the scent of fresh food in the air. And to sweeten this already sweet event, admission is completely free to the public, and food tickets are only $1 each!
You’re going to want to stock up on a lot of tickets too, because every item sold is guaranteed to be homemade by members of the Mickve Israel congregation, and the Sisterhood: a women’s group based out of the synagogue. The festival is sure to have all the traditional favorites, plus quite a few items that would be new to many curious visitors. Some of the items included are noodle kugel, blintzes, potato latkes, apple strudels, challah bread, bagels and lox, corned beef sandwiches, hummus, brisket, sizzling sephardic lamb, stuffed cabbage, rugelach, and of course, kosher hotdogs for the kids. Throughout the day there will also be live music, magic shows, puppeteers, and much more! All proceeds and other donations go to the congregation, which in turn goes towards various programs that help benefit the Savannah community.
The synagogue congregation also takes great pride in the fact that the event is truly a celebration of multicultural Savannah. It not only helps to educate the community about Jewish foods and traditions, but it also promotes tolerance, family values, and simply brings the people of Savannah together.
The Mickve Isreal Congregation is the third oldest in the United States, and if you wish to know more, the Synagogue is located on 20 East Gordon Street in Monterey square. It’s open for tours Monday through Friday, and the beautiful tall gothic architecture is certainly worth the visit.
But if you’re staying for the food, not the history, keep in mind that food tickets are sold in advance at a 10% discount. It will save you the trouble of waiting in the ticket booth line at the beginning of the festival. Make sure to come early and stay late as most of the favorites sell out quickly—and you don’t want to be stuck walking back to your hotel without any challah bread for the road, would you?