MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – The ongoing pandemic is forcing communities to cancel even more festivals. On Monday, Temple Israel announced this year’s Jewish Cultural Festival in August will not happen, and the President of Kettering’s Holiday at Home Festival said the event that is scheduled for Labor Day weekend is also canceled.
Normally, Temple Israel would host the Jewish Cultural Festival in the summer. The organization said out of an abundance of caution, the tenth anniversary celebration will happen in 2021.
Courtney Cummings, Temple Israel’s music and program director and festival manager, said the festival was originally scheduled for June and they had already postponed it for August because of the coronavirus.
Then Monday, nearly three months out, Temple Israel announced they decided to instead cancel this year’s Jewish Cultural Festival.
“Once we saw the way things were going with this pandemic, with COVID-19, and so many different unknown factors, we felt it was best for our community and the greater Dayton community for us to hold off on celebrating this year’s tenth anniversary next year,” said Cummings.
Also on Monday, Carrie Kihn, the President of Kettering’s Holiday at Home Festival said this year’s theme is “Hometown Spirit, Let’s Hear It,” and while participants won’t be able to enjoy most of the normal activities, Kihn said they are encouraging families to still celebrate, just in a different way.
“Kettering Holiday at Home was founded on staying home and being safe and enjoying your family on holiday at home weekend,” said Kihn. “We have some great ponds, picnic areas and walking trails in our community to enjoy.”
Kihn said the decision to cancel this year’s event was in accordance with the City of Kettering’s decision made last week. Kihn said the city had canceled most activities into September and their event would have contradicted that timeline.
“We didn’t feel like it was in good taste to continue and just have the festival, and not support the city,” said Kihn. “Plus, at this point, even though the city and the state have done a lot of good things to reopen and be safe, we’re not quite sure about mass gatherings yet.”
Kihn said many have asked why they decided to go ahead and cancel the event nearly four months away, but she said the festival takes a long time to plan and they wanted to give vendors an early heads up so they could make different plans.
Meanwhile, Cummings said this is just one of many ways the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the Jewish community for the foreseeable future.
“Typically we gather for Shabbat services every Friday evening and Saturday morning in our building, and due to the various restrictions on gatherings of anyone over ten, we’ve had to cancel all of our services and programs,” said Cummings.
But she said while they do have to be apart, they are finding ways to support each other.
“We have a wonderful group of people that are contacting every single person in the congregation for various wellness checks just to see how everyone is doing, who needs groceries, who needs just a call,” said Cummings.
And while participants will have to wait until next year to enjoy the crafts, food, live music and more at the Jewish Cultural Festival, there will still be the “Oy Vey” 5k run and walk held virtually.
Cummings said you can create a route in your own neighborhood and all proceeds will benefit Temple Israel’s social action fund.
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