Deli Days adds more to its cultural sandwich

The popular Jewish food festival expands to include theater, dance and visual art.

doland@idahostatesman.comJune 18, 2013 



    Jewish Dinner Theater, "Heavy Mettle: From Shtetl to Tin Pan Alley," a multimedia performance by Millie & the Mentshn that explores the roots of Jewish klezmer music. Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner and show at 6:30 p.m., Riverside Hotel, Sapphire Room, 2900 W. Chinden Blvd., Boise. $35 at


    Deli Days, kosher deli sandwiches, hot dogs, salads, homemade baked goods, synagogue tours and more, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. both days at the Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, 11 N. Latah, Boise. Free. Music by The Moody Jews and Millie & the Mentshn starts at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. both days. To order ahead call 343-6601 or find a menu and online order forms at


    Æ Jewish dance workshop with music and instruction by Millie & the Mentshn, 2-3:30 p.m.,Boise Art Museum, 670 Julia Davis Drive, Boise. Free.

    • BAM opening reception for "Kehinde Wiley, The World Stage: Israel" with the artist in attendance and a performance by Millie & the Mentshn, 5:30-8 p.m., 670 Julia Davis Drive. Free for members, $15 for nonmembers.

    • Havdallah in the Park: experience the traditional Jewish ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the sabbath. 8:30 p.m., Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, 777 S. 8th St., Boise.


    Jewish films at the Flicks: The French animated feature "The Rabbi's Cat," 12:30 p.m., 646 Fulton St., Boise. $10 at the box office.

No worries, there will be plenty of pastrami on rye, lox and bagels, kosher hot dogs and pickles for all at the 28th annual Deli Days.

But this year you'll also find more to chew on.

Since the Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel moved its 118-year-old synagogue from Downtown to the Bench in 2003, this flagship fundraiser has been in growth mode.

The menu expands a bit each year. More musical acts hit the stage and over the years members have honed a desire to reach further into the community.

This year they took the big step, says Oliver Thompson, the musician and co-founder of the Moody Jews who is spearheading the effort to create the first Idaho Jewish Cultural Festival and Deli Days.

"We kept talking about it and saying, 'next year, next year,'" Thompson says. "This year, I just decided to make it happen."

Jewish culture is deeply ingrained in American and world culture from theater and film to art and music. And Thompson wanted to create a festival that could grow to reflect that - with a kosher dill on the side.

The first Jewish Cultural Festival and Deli Days marks the 10th anniversary of the synagogue's relocation. That night in 2003, the congregation brought a klezmer band from Bellingham, Wash., led by Millie Johnson to serenade the Herculean effort.

"Klezmer means 'vessel of sound.' It's this Jewish folk music that picks up influences from every place Jews have lived over the centuries like the Middle East, Spain, South America and America," he says.

To tie the two events together after 10 years, he's bringing back Johnson and his latest band, Millie & the Mentshn, to anchor the festival.

Millie and company will perform a dinner-theater show on Wednesday, play for lunch and dinner at Deli Days on Thursday and Friday, teach a dance workshop and play at the Boise Art Museum's artist reception for Kehinde Wiley on Saturday. That event will be followed by a traditional havdallah ceremony at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial across the street.

Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland

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