Locals get their culture fix with JCC Rockland

Jenn Chaitin, left, and Lanie Etkind co-chaired JCC Rockland's annual Jewish Cultural Arts Festival.
Jenn Chaitin, left, and Lanie Etkind co-chaired JCC Rockland's annual Jewish Cultural Arts Festival.

Whether it was the comedy night, fashion show, variety of lectures, films or concerts that reeled them in, more than 1,500 people attended JCC Rockland’s 2013 Jewish Cultural Arts Festival.

With 10 events geared to meet a variety of interests, it was bookended by sold-out performances on the opening and closing nights. In between it offered a little something for everyone.

“We were able to really provide a world-class festival that featured top artists and performers,” said JCC Rockland CEO David Kirschtel. “And it was reflected at the box office. People were excited by the different events and they showed their support.”

The festival kicked off in late October with a sold-out concert featuring Anat Cohen, one of the top Jazz clarinetists in the country. More than 500 people attended the event, which was held in Rockland Community College’s cultural arts center. Jazz luminary George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival, joined Cohen on stage. He received a lifetime achievement award from the JCC.

Sponsored by Micki and Jim Leader and Leader and Berkon, LLP, the festival is now in its third year, when it was recast to include a wide-range of cultural offerings. It was chaired by Jenn Chaitn and Lanie Etkind, who did a “great job putting together a world-class event, and an even better job of filling the seats,” said Kirschtel.

For the seven-year prior, the festival had exclusively featured books. It still includes literary events, and this year was no different -- Itzak Brook, author of “In the Sands of Sinai” about the Yom Kippur War; and Caroline Leavitt, author of “Is This Tomorrow,” the story of a single Jewish mother in 1950s suburbia both presenting.

In addition to the sell out Chazen Jazz Concert, a fashion show featuring Jewish and Israeli designers and featuring local women on the catwalk was a huge success, filling the JCC’s Schwartz Family Social Hall. The Koenig Family Chanukah Concert featuring Judy and David lured in more than 350 people ranging from tiny toddlers to kvelling grandparents.

 “AKA Doc Pomus,” and “Wagner’s Jews” were two films screened during the month of activities. And artist Tobi Kahn and independent curator Karen Levitov spoke about Jewish artists and Jewish art collectors, respectively.


The closing night featured three standup comedians: Karen Bergreen, Jon Fisch and Rockland resident, Johnny Lampert. That event was a sell-out as well.



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