Sunday’s Food Fest will be all about kehillah | creating community

While you might be pretty excited for Sunday’s annual Jewish Food and Culture Fest, you can’t be as excited as staff and volunteers are to be hosting you. “For us this event is all about the Jewish concept of kehillah, or creating community — for The J, our neighbors, greater Birmingham, and from as far away as you can come,” says Executive Director Brooke Bowles. “We absolutely love this event, and we’re just trying to do it in the most delicious way possible.” 

This weekend’s event will be the third Food Fest for Brooke, who for months has been in the thick of planning alongside her staff. “It gets pretty intricate with having to calculate multiple home-style recipes for 2,000 people while chasing down all-kosher ingredients,” she explains. “And then we just need to schedule dozens of hours of preparation and cooking, and fill a hundred food-prep slots with volunteers.”

Executive Director Brooke Bowles stands on a stage with staff member Katie Hausman and Betty Habshey, organizer of the first Food Fest a quarter century ago
Last year Executive Director Brooke Bowles (left) took the stage to recognize Katie Hausman (center), who oversaw our 2023 event, and Betty Habshey, who organized the first Food Fest nearly a quarter-century ago.

This final week of preparation, for example, included three days of volunteers and staff preparing and baking brisket along with other preparations — all interspersed with staff members playing Tetris with dozens of food pans in cold storage.

“While the event itself is plenty exciting, getting it all ready for the big day can be pretty invigorating, too,” Brooke says. 


Sincere thanks to all of our sponsors, led by presenting sponsors the Bernstein Family. Be sure to visit the event page to see the entire sponsor line-up (more than ever this year!) with links to their businesses. This event would not be possible without their help.


Last year’s menu was so successful that we just couldn’t see a reason to change much this year. Even the prices are the same. 

But the burning question is…
Will the Sampler Plate (piled high with brisket, a cabbage roll, smoked whitefish salad, a potato bureka, and veggie matzah ball soup) be dethroned as last year’s most popular dish by the Brisket Plate or — back for its second delicious year — the pomegranate-walnut chicken?

Read about what it takes to make all Food Fest menu items kosher.

The Shuk

Back by popular demand, festival goers will once again be able to visit our small-scale recreation of a typical Israeli open-air shuk market. Inside, guests will find samples of Israeli treats alongside dried fruits, nuts, and spices to take home.


While you enjoy your food we will entertain you with the sounds of staff member Drew Tracey’s guitar, headliner Bigfoot County Revue, and a demonstration of the Israeli martial art Krav Maga by local expert Bobby Dixon from Fight Club Fitness.

And of course we’ll have bounce houses for the kids.


We have a great line-up of exhibitors this year, including a number of artisans plus Jewish organizations and other area nonprofits.