Fair to feature borscht, blinis and other things Russian

Celebrate Israel's 50th birthday Russian style with blinis, vodka, a chess marathon and live music in Palo Alto on Sunday, June 14.

The sixth annual Russian-American fair will honor the Jewish state's anniversary from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Albert L. Schultz Jewish Community Center.

Russian emigre entertainers will perform throughout the day. Two art shows will open in the center's Koret gallery, and the Troyan family clowns, who appear on stage and television in Moscow, will juggle, mime and perform magic tricks.

"It's a mutual holiday for Israelis, Russians and Americans," said Boris Vladimirsky, director of the Russian emigre department at the ALSJCC and coordinator of the festival. "We try to use a new theme each year. Last year we celebrated Russian emigres' relationship with the American Jewish community. We tried to show everybody that we're all related.

"This year's 50th is important because the very ideals of Zionism were born in Russia. And Israel was born and developed with the help and participation of the sons and daughters of great Russian people. Look at Golda Meir — she was born in Kiev."

Vladimirsky said the fair will feature two full-length music concerts by popular Jewish music groups RebbeSoul and Limpopo.

RebbeSoul, a six-piece Jewish rock band, will play for an hour in the JCC's Rollnick Auditorium beginning at 1:35 p.m. Composed of musicians from Holland, Brazil, Tanzania, and the United States, the group blends rock, jazz, reggae, funk and klezmer music in songs with Hebraic themes.

Folk-rock band Limpopo, a group of four Russian emigres, will dance, sing, tell stories and play original jazz compositions in a one-hour concert starting at 2:45 p.m.

The fair is sponsored by the ALSJCC, South Peninsula Region of the Jewish Community Federation, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Radio KARA, Metro Newspapers, Russian radio station WMNB and the Russian Entertainment Center Web site.

Some 3,000 to 4,000 people are expected to attend. Palo Alto Mayor Dick Rosenbaum will speak at 1:30 p.m. about the community's ties to Israel and its culture.

Many Russian emigre children and adults who belong to different performance groups in the south Peninsula and San Francisco, will sing, dance and play instruments at the fair.

Members of the Tikvah School of Music and Dance from the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco will sing in Hebrew, English and Russian. They'll also perform Jewish, Mexican, Italian and Russian folk dances.

ALSJCC's own Lysaya Dance Ensemble, a group of 30 emigre children and teenagers, will give a one-hour performance at 3:50 p.m.

The new exhibits in the Koret gallery include paintings and prints in the avant-garde and traditional styles by Russian-born Alla Viksne and Alexander Yanushkevich, along with "wearable art" clothing by the artist Natasha. Works from all three artists will be for sale. The show runs through July 12.

Vladimirsky said two one-day-only exhibitions dedicated to Israel's anniversary include a black-and-white photo display by Michael Shtern called "Faces of Jerusalem," and lithographs and etchings by Haifa artist Eugene Abezgauz titled "The Rainbow and the Flight." Works from both artists will be on sale.

A display from U.C. Berkeley titled "All About Emma: The Words and Deeds of Emma Goldman," will feature photos, documents and letters about the noted American socialist. Included is a copy of a letter to Goldman from Vladimir Lenin.

Additional entertainment includes carnival games and activities for children, a gymnastics performance, a chess marathon at noon officiated by a Russian chess master, and two 30-minute sessions of Israeli folk dance instruction. Street vendors will offer Russian CDs, crafts and jewelry.

Cuisine includes hot borscht, pierogi, kosher Russian meat dumplings called pelmeni, and blinis with herring and sour cream. Israeli salads and falafel also will be available. For those over 21, there will be eight varieties of Russian vodka to sample.