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Feast for the Senses: Greek Jewish Festival Celebrates Unique Heritage of Romaniote Jews in Manhattan’s Lower East Side


The Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum hosted their eighth annual Greek Jewish Festival on May 21, 2023, in front of their landmark synagogue at 280 Broome St, between Allen St and Eldridge St, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The festival celebrated the unique Romaniote and Sephardic heritage of the Jews of Greece and offered a feast for the senses, including authentic kosher Greek foods and homemade Greek pastries, traditional Greek dancing, live Greek and Sephardic music, an outdoor marketplace full of vendors, arts and educational activities for kids, and much more.

The festival’s program featured an exciting lineup of music and dance performances that captivated the audience. Among the talented artists who graced the stage were Sounds of Cyprus, offering enchanting Cypriot folk music, the Noga Group featuring Avram Pengas, showcasing a fusion of Greek, Israeli, Sephardic, and Mediterranean sounds, Layla Isis, a masterful belly dancer, Scott Wilson and Effendi, presenting a mesmerizing blend of Turkish, Ladino, and Middle Eastern music, the Stavros Theodorou Orchestra, performing a mix of traditional and contemporary Greek melodies, and the Holy Trinity Dancers of New Rochelle, a Greek Folk ensemble adorned in traditional costumes who not only entertained the crowd but also provided dance lessons to the enthusiastic public.

The Greek Jewish Festival is the only festival of its kind in the world. Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue and Museum continues to hold services every Saturday morning as well as for all Jewish holidays. In addition, it houses a museum about Greek Jewry that is open to the public every Sunday, as well as by appointment. The museum serves as a repository for both Romaniote and Sephardic history, especially on the Lower East Side, and hosts many educational events including lectures, book signings, movie screenings, and concerts.
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