Festival of Booths takes to S.F. streets

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The temple's executive director Gary Cohn says the event "is a way to give non-Jewish people an idea of what Jewish culture is all about and make it more accessible to the broader community.

"We'd like the festival to grow over the years, and offer a way for us to reach nonaffiliated Jews in the Bay Area," Cohn notes.

Artists exhibiting their Jewish-themed wares throughout the day include Nancy Katz of Berkeley, whose textile and graphic work has been exhibited at Berkeley's Judah L. Magnes Museum, the San Francisco Jewish Community Library, the Jewish Museum San Francisco and the American Museum of Quilts in San Jose.

Willits-based jewelry-maker Eva Strauss-Rosen incorporates traditional Jewish subjects with modern techniques, specializing in intricate lockets made of silver, gold and precious stones.

The richly lettered and decorated ketuba or marriage contract has been a crucial, joyful part of Jewish weddings for centuries. Illustrator Richard Sigberman and calligrapher Robin Hall, both of San Francisco, create original ketubot as well as family trees and other special documents.

Eugene Frank and Leslie Gattman of Forestville have developed an international following for their ceramics, while Oakland artist Lila Wahrhaftig, whose etchings and engravings will also be for sale, produced the aquatint design that serves as a logo for the festival itself. She was inspired by carved motifs on the ruined synagogue at Capernaum, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Other artists include San Leandro apparel designer Carol Attia; Palo Alto sculptor Pola Harrel; San Franciscan woodcrafter Sonia Melnikova-Lavigne; clay platter-maker Linda Relin of Willits; traditional weaver Laine Barbanell Schipper of Foster City; and Amy Ullman of San Mateo, who will display colorful Hebrew prints. Oakland jewelry-maker Erez Epshtein will also be there, as will San Franciscan ironworker John Nieder.

Opening the festival is the klezmer sextet Limonim, Sonoma County's sole Jewish-music band. Specializing in a Dixieland-influenced style popular in New York just after the turn of the century, with all vocals in Yiddish and Hebrew, the group will perform on the main stage at 10 a.m.

The five-piece group Adama will begin at noon, treating festivalgoers with Jewish music from around the world. The group's Israeli-born founder and leader, Achi Ben-Shalom, has been the conductor of the Yiddish Chorus of San Francisco and currently teaches at four different Jewish schools.

The Ellis Island Old World Folk band, with its klezmer-based repertoire, follows at 3 p.m. The group features traditional melodies from Russia, Poland, Greece and Italy and a few forays into modern song, facilitated by a wide array of instruments including clarinet, flute, violin, trombone, accordion, mandolin, guitar, and string bass.

Gail Foorman offers her own klezmer strains on the stage at Second Avenue and Lake Street between 1 and 5 p.m.

Outdoor cafes throughout the festival area will be serving knishes, latkes, gourmet sausages, falafel and more.

For information, call (415) 346-4561 or (415) 751-2535.