I enjoyed opening this festival today and it was especially good to do as it is the first time Oxford has seen a Jewish celebration fair. Rabbi Eli Brackman welcomed me as he has been heavily involved in the organisation that the Oxford Chabad Society has done for the event. I was introduced by the Town Crier of Oxford, Anthony Church. Was was glad he had his bell and loud voice with him!
There are many fairs and festivals established in our City so it’s great to see a new venture to celebrate Lag B’omer, an ancient Jewish holiday. Lag B’Omer is celebrated on the 33rd day of the period between Passover and Shavuot and is meant to be a day of celebration during the 49 day period of contemplation and spiritual preparation for the giving of the Torah.
I’ve said this before: One of the wonderful things about Oxford for me is the great diversity of faiths and cultures and today’s celebration was certainly a very welcome addition to that. I hope it is the first of many such successful fairs.
There was lots of music at the festival and was really pleased to see a harpist Fien Barnett-Neefs and and the Klezmer band She Koyokh. The music really helped to make a great carnival atmosphere in the sunny weather.
There were two food stalls and they were both incredibly popular. I had a delicious falafel sandwich. There were also crafts stalls and on one of them there was the chance to make Challah bread. I had a couple of attempts and they’ve turned out actually quite well! There was also pottery painting and candle making, a book stall and a Jewish Scribal Stand. There were even pony rides for children!
Also at the event was the Oxford Jewish Heritage Exhibition. A lot of work had gone into putting it together and it is generously sponsored by the heritage lottery fund. It tells a fascinating story of the history of Jewish people in Oxford from mediaeval times and I enjoyed reading it.