By Caroline Kessler
Although it’s only Monday, I’m already planning for this Friday, February 19. Why? Because that’s when I leave, at approximately 5.30 in the morning, for Jewlicious Festival 6.0. Although I can barely speak the slightly cheesy name of this festival, Google has no trouble prompting you with the suggestion of “Jewlicious” after typing only “jewl,” as my friend Molly pointed out, amused beyond belief.
Some backstory: the director of the Hillel-Jewish University Center in Pittsburgh heard about this event and offered to send a few campus leaders from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University to see what it’s all about. Already in it it’s 6th year, Jewlicious has been mentioned on the web-waves a few times and the positive feedback our director had heard about the festival convinced him to send us. So in a few days, five pale Pittsburgh students will board a (few) planes to get to Long Beach, California.
The event is produced by JConnect, along with Jewlicious.com, Long Beach Hillel (affectionally known as just ‘Beach Hillel) and Jewish Student Services. The whole weekend will take place at the Barbara & Ray Alpert Jewish Community Center in Long Beach. Students are offered the chance to sleep over in the JCC or at the nearby Marriott Hotel. Among others, Matisyahu will be performing, which is always a coup for Jewish organizations to snag as part of their line-up.
I already asked ‘why?’ once in this blog post, but I’ll ask it again–why this festival? Why is it in its 6th year? Why do we even need a “gathering of the tribe?” as they’ve been marketing it? Will this really be the biggest Jewish sleepover since the sleepaway camp you went to in middle school? Or is it little more than a weekend-long Jewish dating service (as I used to refer to youth group events)? Will there just be hookups and hangovers, or is there something more?
Don’t worry–I’ll try to answer all of these questions when I’m there. I’ll probably leave with more questions than answers, but that’s okay. I’m excited to talk to Jewish college students and twenty-somethings about what brought them to festival, what they were hoping to gain for it, and why they even think we need something like this. Perhaps this is a way to unite the younger Jewish community, one that often feels like it’s being threatened by extinction. Or maybe it’s just a really fun weekend in a warm place…
Caroline Kessler, hailing from the not-so-charmed city of Baltimore, is an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University.