he sounds and smells of Jewish food, music and culture can be experienced all around campus this week, courtesy of Hillel’s very own Jewish Arts Festival. Sponsored by Rochester Hillel, the festival, spanning from Saturday, Feb. 16 to Friday, Feb. 22, is an outlet and celebration organized to expose Jewish students to new parts of Jewish life that they may have not known about or had access to before.

The events encompassed in the festival have been manifold, each giving students a different taste of Jewish life and tradition. Freshmen Dustin Canzonieri and Ilana Shalowitz have served as co-chairs of the festival since September. Each has overseen sub-committees that have worked on music, movies and the visual arts aspects of the festival, as well as aiding important administrative decisions.

On Saturday, Hillel hosted a successful kick-off event in Hirst Lounge in Wilson Commons, which included kosher foods, live Jewish jazz music and a showing of the movie “West Bank Story.” On Sunday, “Turn Left at the End of the World” was shown in the Hive in Wilson Commons. The movie chronicles the relations between two disparate communities, Indian and Moroccan Jews, in a remote Israeli desert town. On Monday, a performance by UR’s musical theater troupe, Off Broadway on Campus, was featured along with a presentation of the movie “Big Shots.” On Tuesday, “Unsettled” was played in the Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics, followed by an active dialogue and discussion with the movie’s director.

Interspersed between these events, several interactive Jewish arts workshops were directed on Monday and Tuesday that included photography and painting displays, silk challah cover/yarmulke painting, Jewish graffiti in the tunnels in Wilson Commons and traditional Jewish holiday foods. From Wednesday to Friday, a Jewish art gallery will be open to the public in Havens Lounge from 10 a.m. to midnight on Wednesday and Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. On Wednesday night, the movie “To Live and Become” was played for interested viewers at the Hive, and tonight, “Pick a Card” will be shown in the same location.

Friday at 7 p.m. will mark the finale of the festival with the Closing Dinner at the Interfaith Chapel. The dinner will include authentic Jewish and kosher foods and will feature guest speakers Professor of Musicology at the Eastman School of Music Ralph Locke and Nancy Kraus, a professional silk painter for Silkstone Designs.

Richard Gordon, the Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellow of Rochester Hillel, summed up the event eloquently.

“My goals for the festival included engaging Jewish students in a facet of Jewish life at UR that may not have been available to them before,” he said. “Students have been engaged by serving on a committee that helped plan parts of the festival and, in the end, by attending the various events to experience new parts of Jewish life that they may not have known about beforehand.”

Be sure to go out and experience this exciting festival!

Venkateswaran is a member of the class of 2011.

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