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Gefiltefest not happening this year say organisers

Europe’s biggest Jewish food festival will not take place this year due to financial difficulties

    Gefiltefest, Europe’s biggest Jewish food festival, will not take place this year due to financial difficulties.

    Organisers of the event failed to raise the money needed to put it on.

    Michael Leventhal, who founded Gefiltefest in 2010, said finding funding “was one of the hardest parts. We managed because of an incredible team of volunteers and depended on their generosity of time.”

    The event had moved to the JW3 centre in North-West London in recent years. Raymond Simonson, JW3 chief executive, said he was sorry the festival would not be able to take place.

    He said: “We hope it will be back. But they are a small team and only have a handful of donors. Fundraising for them is hard — all the trustees have full-time jobs.”

    The showcase of Jewish and kosher food had made a positive impact outside the community, Mr Leventhal said.

    “It was the first event to host Muslim caterers; people from Somalia and Eritrea were able to cook with kashrut supervision.

    “Before they turned up they admitted that they were quite scared and had never cooked for a Jewish audience.

    “Afterwards they said it had changed their perception of the community, which is a fantastic thing.”

    He said Gefiltefest had emerged because “it seemed crazy there was no Jewish food festival when we have the film festival and book week.

    “But there was no grand plan to grow it into what it became — it just happened.

    “One of the great things about it for me was how educational it was.

    “People attended sessions on kashrut because they were fun and entertaining.”

    Mr Leventhal stepped down as director in 2014 and the festival was managed by Emma Wolfin Golding last year. Ms Golding was not re-appointed by the trustees.

    Mr Leventhal said: “I certainly hope the festival will be back and that someone takes it on because it is a great opportunity. It helped build a community within a community.”

    Mr Simonson added: “If it were me I would issue a call to the community to get people involved and try and raise the support for it.

    “We were really keen to have Gefiltefest. It is a great festival and people really enjoy it.”

    Meanwhile food charity Manna — Meir Panim’s UK fundraising branch — is hosting a similar event in central London on November 4.

    ‘Za’atar — The Kosher Food Festival’ will showcase food from Israel and raise money for the charity, which feeds Israeli children, families and Holocaust survivors.

    It will give people a chance to taste kosher Israeli food, according to Gabriel Blauer, Manna’s executive director.

    “There are so many Israeli chefs in London, in restaurants like The Paloma, which are not kosher. This will be a chance for families to experience kosher Israeli food.”

    Mr Blauer said there was a gap in the market for an event which could demonstrate the success of Israeli food in London.

    “In the last few years big Israeli chefs have done well in London, New York, Paris — the Israeli food revolution has grown.

    “Our festival will be a great experience for the whole family.”

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