Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fiesta Shalom in Boyle Heights

Attending Fiesta Shalom was like stepping back in time in Boyle Heights’ history – Jewish and Latino people intermingling again in the neighborhood that both groups had a major hand in shaping. For me, raised in Boyle Heights, it was like welcoming an old friend home again. I was happy to work with the Israeli Consulate to organize the event. The line to get into the famous Breed Street Shul, which at one point was reportedly the largest synagogue west of the Mississippi, was long and full of people from both cultures all day long. The food, music, art and cultural sharing was fantastic. About 5,000 people attended (we expected 1,000), with a roughly 50/50 split between Jewish and Latino people. At the end of the festival when the Mexican and the Jewish dancers performed together, people in the audience joined in and began to dance. It was what one person called in Hebrew “a ‘Mitzvah’ - a good deed filled with joy.” And that is exactly what Fiesta Shalom was: a good deed filled with joy. I hope we can do it again. I’d like to thank all who helped put this together, including my Boyle Heights staff, who worked hard to make this happen!