The Hippo


Apr 23, 2019








Temple B’Nai Israel Jewish Food Festival. Courtesy photo.

21st annual Jewish Food Festival
When: Sunday, July 8, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Temple B’Nai Israel, 210 Court St., Laconia
Cost: Free admission; foods priced per item

Bringing on the brisket
Jewish food festival returns


 By Matt Ingersoll
You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the homemade foods that will line the tables at Temple B’Nai Israel’s annual Jewish Food Festival.
“Most of the people that we’ll see come actually are non-Jewish,” fundraiser committee chairman Stu Needleman said. “The amount of Jewish people in this part of the state isn’t very large, so a festival like this is unusual.” 
Now in its 21st year, the event will return to the temple grounds in Laconia on Sunday, July 8, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event has grown over the years from a simple hot dog and rummage sale to a larger community effort offering brisket, corned beef, pastrami, blintzes, knishes, potato latkes and more.
More than a dozen committee members work to prepare the foods using traditional recipes for many of the items sold, while the deli meats are brought up from Evan’s Deli, a New York-style delicatessen in Massachusetts.
The deadline to fill out a pre-order form has passed, but take-out is available while supplies last. You can either order to eat onsite as a meal or order pre-packaged frozen foods to reheat at home.
Marketing chairwoman Barbara Katz said one of the biggest draws of the festival is the sandwiches, which feature either corned beef, pastrami, tongue or homemade beef brisket cooked by church members and served on rye bread or a roll with coleslaw and a half sour pickle, also from Evan’s Deli.
Other options will include blintzes (lightly fried crepes filled with cheese and topped with sour cream or berries); chopped herring or liver; and knishes (a flaky dough with either potato or ground beef fillings).
Frozen meals are available for take-out as well, while the supplies last. They include potato latkes (fried potato “pancakes” usually accompanied by applesauce or sour cream); matzo ball soup (with homemade chicken broth and topped with matzo balls and carrots); noodle kugel (cooked in a sweet cream baked custard and topped with cinnamon crumbs); and stuffed cabbage leaves filled with rice, onions and ground beef and baked in a tomato-based sweet and sour sauce.
Desserts are also homemade and feature rugelach (a light cream cheese-based dough cut into triangles and filled with pecans, raisins and cinnamon) and strudel (a variation of rugelach but shaped like a jelly roll with a raspberry jam filling).
Needleman said the festival’s fundraising committee took over the food preparation responsibilities just a few years ago, whereas before it was just one church member.
“It’s the same recipes that we do, though we will tweak them here and there after we get some feedback and adjust some things,” he said.
A selection of items donated by church members will be available for sale at what Temple B’Nai has dubbed the Nearly New Boutique.
This year’s festival also happens to fall one day after the city’s 125th anniversary parade.
“We hope if people come see the parade then they’ll stick around on Sunday to come to our food festival,” Katz said.
Laconia’s 125th anniversary extravaganza will include craft and food vendors, a beer and wine garden, live entertainment and more. It’s happening Saturday, July 7, starting with a community parade at 2 p.m. from Laconia High School (345 Union Ave.) to Opechee Park (915 N. Main St.). A party in the park will follow at 3 p.m., with music and community groups performing until 9:30 p.m. Hot air balloon rides will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. The evening will culminate with a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. For a full schedule of activities, visit 

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