Looking back on this past weekend, I can’t help but be a little awed. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, especially since we are talking about what can be viewed as a glorified Shabaton, but the latest Jewlicious Festival was seriously nothing less than a transformative experience. Of course the participants all had a great time. The dedicated staff and small army of volunteers love the Festival and work tirelessly to make it happen and keep it running smoothly, so they too ultimately enjoy the experience. After 4 years, I’m used to that dynamic. But this year, when I stopped running around and just tried to absorb what was going on, the images that really stood out were those of the various Jewish communal leaders from all over the place who were in attendance and seemed a bit… what, stunned?

Stunned?? Yeah. Stunned. Jewlicious united people from across the Jewish spectrum – participants wore beards and payot and kippahs and nose rings and tattoos and long skirts and mini skirts and… not to belabor it, but I think you get the point. It was a diverse crowd. And it was an equally diverse group of presenters. There were many a heated discussion during the panels and in the corridors but it never seemed as if anyone felt out of place or uncomfortable, and despite all this diversity, everyone genuinely seemed to have a good time. A good time doing Jewish stuff, with other Jews. Crazy!! I’m sure some people left inspired. Many people left a little better educated about their identities and all were able to point to Jewlicious as an example of a Jewish experience… that totally didn’t suck.

Yes. Such a thing is possible. Simply provide cutting edge programing that combines Music, culture, technology, innovation, activism and a little of that ol’ timey Judaism. Allow the people that you are trying to attract to take a real leadership role in the creation of said programing. Put it all together and then work like crazy to make it happen. In my next post I will talk about some of the highlights of the Festival. Stay tuned!

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Kolhakavod CK and Jewlicious! It does sound truly amazing.
    Let me ask a question too. Is your festival concept different from the principles and concepts of Limmud? If so, in what ways?
    shadai / judapest.org (Budapest)

  • Well, Limmud LA had 600 participants including close to 200 presenters. Participants at Limmud were presented with a dizzying array of program options – several at any given moment – from a number of presenters representing a wide range of beliefs and opinions. Jewlicious on the other hand had non-stop activity, much of it was based on shared experience, culture and worship. We also had about a dozen panels with a variety of panelists discussing issues related to Jewish identity, Israel, culture, politics etc. Surprisingly all of our panels were very well attended and if anything, we left the participants wanting more. I moderated two panels and both had nearly 200 participants each. I think at Jewlicious we kind of forced participants to confront and address new ideas and new ways of acting and thinking and in that sense it was very much a learning experience. However, the overall positivity was created because, well, it was big fun too!

    Does that make sense?

  • wait, so whats the difference? 😉 j/k Jewlicious has by far been the most fun conference I have ever been on. Thank you David and Rabbi Yonah! The unplugged Matisyahu session was really a highlight.
    p.s. I wore the t-shirt and sweatshirt on the flight home….I was THAT GUY, but it felt good!

  • Who were the machers/communal leaders you spoke of? I didn’t see them–were they in disguise?

  • Dude. You saw some of them. You spoke to some of them even. Of course I am broadly defining “communal leaders” and never used the term “Machers.” By communal leaders I can man reps or proplr who work for Jewish communal orgs – Hillel Directors (there were 2), high ranking reps of Jewish orgs (there were several) and various other reps. I;m not even counting the local heads of Federation and Hillel Board. The point is, anyone who has a communal job that exposes them to other shabbatons/Festivals/Weekend Leadership seminars, Limmud Presenters etc. These people have been to similar gatherings. Seeing them be impressed was revelatory, a sign that even amongst veterans of the circuit, it was quietly acknowledged that we had done a very, very good thing.

  • Jewlicious was amazing. I am so glad I took the trip out to Long Beach from the East Coast for it. I had the opportunity to meet so many interesting and innovative people in one weekend, in one place, which is an opportunity no one should miss.

    Thanks for everyones efforts in putting this together. I have interviews up from a few of the performers and presenters on my blog, and will keep adding more. The people at Jewlicious are exactly the type of people I want the world to know about!

    All the best and would love to help in anyway I can for next year. Especially if the festival decides to come out to the East Coast 🙂

    <3 Monica