Okay, even as I write Rachel Bookstein is probably serving yet another tasty meal for the many hungry mouths, her indefatigable husband, Rabbi Yonah is probably running around organizing one more event – one last activity. Some people are sitting in corners playing music, others have just left the auditorium after a second night of great performances by a number of different bands. Ariel Beery is probably still trying to figure out how to beat that Shabot guy in Scrabble (give it up dude, the guy obviously read the Scrabble dictionary), Kelsey is presumably having a beer (didn’t see ya on the way out, so take care), others are hopefully getting phone numbers and email addresses from the many attractive (and attracted) members of the opposite sex, Grandmuffti is wondering whether god does exist after all, ck is taking yet some more photos, Laya is relaxing in the cafe, Esther is done introducing bands, and all those who are leaving for home or had left a little while ago are feeling a little different, a little excited, a little more of a sense of belonging to our…tribe, and definitely a little sad that it’s over.

Jewlicious 3.0 was packed and busy and full of activities and fun and lots and lots of young people having a pretty good time. Really, what an incredible event. It’s as if people aren’t just thirsty, but parched for this type of festival where they can connect with others even as they connect to some edgy and fun activities. There were moments last night, particularly when Rav Shmuel was on stage (somebody get that guy some airplay, he is so damned good!) when the energy in the building was explosive.

I’m tired but so very pleased to have been there.

And now listen carefully all you Jewish professionals and benefactors who are interested in reaching out to young Jews: Rabbi Yonah Bookstein and his team, with assistance from David Abitbol (ck on this site) and others like Esther and Laya, have put together a superb template that succeeds wildly in reaching young Jews!! They have done this for three years running, with 100 in attendance the first year, 250 in attendance the second year and while the numbers aren’t in yet, at least 400 attendees this year. This is a proven concept! People came on Friday and remained until Sunday night with a full agenda – almost 24 hours a day – throughout. They met each other, talked through the night, played music, sang songs, ate well, had discussions about all sorts of Jewish and Jewish-related topics, celebrated a shabbat together, enjoyed music from excellent Jewish musicians, bands and poets and truly connected with each other with a sense of belonging to a community.

This is a template that can be reproduced in other places in the US. The costs are not prohibitive at all and the team is experienced (and probably willing). If you are a potential benefactor, CALL Yonah Bookstein and get the ball rolling. If you are a professional that has a mandate to work with students or other young Jews, don’t worry about territoriality, this thing cannot be run without significant local leadership and input. I can think of a number of centers around the country where this event can be replicated with great success. Come on folks, there are young Jews in your area that would love to have this type of event. CALL RABBI YONAH BOOKSTEIN AND GET IT DONE! He can be reached at: rabbiyonah [at] Do it!

Update: Here’s a review of Jewlicious 3.0 by a reporter who was there for two of the three days.

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  • Jewdas, you’re going to have to ask really nicely if you want these guys to help you put on a proper celebration in London. 😉

  • Hope Tzuriel Rafael didn’t show up. Dude likes to party more like Kid Rock than Jewlicious.

    Sorry about that. Couldn’t help myself.

  • Why, thanks Jon C.. Spring is here so we can all show off our great Midwestern style. Just keep those bondage thingies in the closet…

  • TM:

    I of all people would absolutely **LOVE** to reproduce even a fraction of the magic that is the Jewlicious Festival. But I have to be a bit of a “Debbie Downer”. I do not believe that the Jewlicious Festival is something that is “cookie cutter Bettie Crocker”: just put same ingredients & stir. I think that to a large extent what makes the JF work is the charisma and talent of people like Rabbi Yonah, David, Laya, Esther, etc. Unfortunately, I don’t think that the JF would be easily reproduced… :-/

  • No, Oyster, I strongly disagree. R. Yonah has now put this on successfully 3 years running in conjunction with Dave and Jewlicious. They have worked out the kinks and now have a successful system in place and it can be replicated with their assistance and presence precisely because of this acquired expertise.

    You can structure an event by utilizing the existing structure of Jewlicious Festivals and the experience acquired by R. Yonah and this team. For example, whereas he uses students from his school and other adjacent colleges, you would use local students in your area. It would be a Jewlicious festival with guidance and leadership from R. Yonah, built together with a local leader from the area.

    Let’s say that you want to put it in San Francisco. You would take advantage of the Jewlicious branding and promotion; use R. Yonah and Dave to create the program and track its development; bring aboard a creative and effective local leader from a college Hillel or similar program who would be a co-leader of the program; and use local students to take on the responsibilities that were taken on by the local students in Orange County on behalf of Jewlicious 3.0.

    It’s true that it’s not like opening a franchise. When you open a franchise you get some training and are told to go and do it yourself. In this instance, I think any program would benefit from being linked to Jewlicious Festivals, from the system and knowledge this team has garnered, from their contacts in entertainment and Jewish circles, and from the genuine interest and success of R. Yonah and the rest of us in doing something that is beneficial and has a true impact on young Jews and the Jewish community.

    In other words, Oyster, in my opinion this can be done. Instead of saying it can’t be, why don’t you call R. Yonah personally? Have a private conversation about what is needed and how he would want to be involved. That’s the point of this post. Instead of sitting there shaking your head or wondering how young local Jews can be reached, call Yonah Bookstein. He can help.

    Oh, and to remind you, because you’ve met me and know that I derive no benefit from Jewlicious or Jewlicious Festivals, my only objective here is to encourage the growth of a successful program that I have seen with my own eyes. This program is a terrific way to bring young Jews together and make them sense a feeling of community in a way that very few if any current institutions in North America are able to evoke.