Frequently Asked Questions:
Our Sabbath begins Friday evening at sunset and runs until nightfall on Saturday night. During those hours Jews are prohibited from performing work, and running a food festival involves lots of work. So we set up on Saturday night, and then run the festival on Sunday and Monday.
Why is the festival always in the winter, on Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend?
We need a Monday when many people – both our volunteers (usually about 250 over the two-day festival) and our guests – are off from work. The weekend of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday is one of those. There are others, but sometimes Jewish holidays fall on those days (and again, we don’t work), and besides, Richmond is such a big food festival town, we don’t want to conflict with any of the other fine festivals.
Where’s the best place to park?
The Weinstein JCC has got a nice-sized parking lot behind the building, and it accommodates their usual daily visitors. But our festival brings over 10,000 guests to the building in two days. The parking lot fills quickly, and with only one lane leading in and one lane leading out, it can take some time to get to the lot, only to find that there is no space there. It is January, and we can’t find a volunteer to stand in the lot to monitor the spaces. [If you’re interested in volunteering for that position, please let us know!] In order to make parking easier, we have arranged a FREE parking shuttle that runs from the north side of Monument Avenue. Park anywhere in the neighborhood opposite the Weinstein JCC bounded by W. Grace, Lake, Cutshaw, and Treboy, and the shuttle will pick you up on the yellow route (see picture below) and let you off at the Weinstein JCC. When you’re ready to leave, you’ll find a sign for pickup at the curb of the Weinstein JCC parking lot, where you’ll be transported back to your car.
Do we provide services for our guests with disabilities?
Absolutely! But some history first: When the Richmond Jewish Food Festival moved to the Weinstein JCC several years ago, the food lines backed up. We realized that in order to serve our guests more quickly, we needed many food serving stations, so we can serve twelve customers at once. That kind of space was not available inside the building, so we set up 6,000 square feet of heated tents on the Monument Avenue side of the building, solely for serving food. We can’t change the Weinstein JCC’s front yard, and the tents sit on a slight hill. Party Perfect, our sponsor and tent provider, has done a wonderful job improving the flooring each year, and we now have plastic interlocking tiles covered with Astroturf. Yet we understand that the small slope can still be difficult for some people. JUST ASK FOR ASSISTANCE! Any of our volunteers would be delighted to arrange to bring your order to you. Then find a place in any of the three indoor dining areas to enjoy your meal.
If you do choose to get your food from the tent area yourself, you’ll be pleased to know that we have ADA-compliant ramps leading to and from the serving tents.
What can I expect when I enter the serving tent?
There are two groups of food serving stations. (See picture below) Serving stations offering traditional Ashkenazi (typically Eastern European) food will be on your left as you enter, and stations selling Israeli (Sephardi) food will be beyond them at the far end of the tents. You may pick up items from one or the other, or visit both areas for the most variety. As you enter, a volunteer will direct you to an available station.
If you are not looking for Ashenazi items, tell the volunteer, and they will direct you to the Israeli stations. Once you have obtained all your food items, loop back towards the cashiers. You’ll find a beverage station on your left before you pay at the cashiers. There is another beverage station indoors, in case you choose not to get your beverages in the tent. At the cashiers, you may pay with cash or most major credit cards.
Once you head indoors you’ll find another beverage stand as well as the baked goods. You pay separately at each of these areas.
Why don’t we serve bagels?
Yes, bagels are a traditional Jewish food, and delicious with lox and cream cheese. However, Jewish law prohibits the mixing of meat items and dairy items, so we have chosen to serve only non-dairy dishes at our festival.
Why doesn’t the live music run non-stop each day?
We try hard to showcase the talents of the Richmond Jewish community, and we believe we have some of the finest performers in Virginia playing for you. But this festival is run completely by volunteers, and the musicians give their time for free. [Many, many thanks to My Son, The Doctor and the Klezm’Or’Ami’m, who have performed in every one of our eleven years, as well as Rudlin Torah Academy, the Weinstein JCC Preschool, and Alan Pollack, who have performed for multiple years!] It’s not so easy to find performers who will (a) volunteer their time, and (b) have all members available on the days of our festival. [For example, the Klezm’Or’Ami’m are an eleven-piece band. What a feat to have played both days, every single year!] But, allowing a little bit of time between performance so each act can set up, we come pretty close to completely filling the schedule.
Why is the live music only in the main auditorium?
That’s where the stage is. And many people request a quieter location, so we offer two other locations for dining without live music. The Sisisky Room has recorded music and periodic announcements piped in. The dining area at the Café at the Weinstein JCC has neither music nor announcements.
Where’s the Israeli beer this year?
Malka, our featured Israeli craft beer for the past few years, has unfortunately stopped exporting while they move to a larger brewery. Another craft brewer will begin exporting soon, but not in time for this year’s festival. :( . But we will have excellent locally-produced craft beer on tap for this year’s festival!
Why don’t we offer alcoholic beverages to go?
Unfortunately, Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission doesn’t offer a license that allows 2-day festivals to sell alcohol for off-premise consumption. :( again.
Why are our volunteers so nice?
We’re not sure why, but our guests really think so. Year after year festival attendees respond to our survey questions and tell us how fantastic our volunteers are. In fact, many claim that we’re the friendliest festival in town. We hope you’ll agree.