Local temple presenting food festival

A popular Jewish food festival is back for another go.

The second annual Altoona Jewish Food Festival featuring the Union Avenue Deli, a production of Altoona’s Reform congregation, will take place Oct. 6 at the Temple Beth Israel, Altoona.

The fundraiser for the Temple Beth Israel Sisterhood, a Temple-affiliated philanthropic association, according to the festival website, is also a “community [event] that’s really fun because people like the kind of food and it just isn’t available around here,” said Susan Holzer, co-chair of the Deli with Barry Allen.

The menu, reflective of an old-time delicatessen, includes corned beef, pastrami and turkey sandwiches, all-beef hot dogs, matzo ball soup, latkes and pastries, such as chocolate babka and rugelach.

Don Clippinger, author of the cookbook, “Real Jewish Men Cook Kosher!” and a regular guest on WTAJ’s “Central PA Live!” program will serve up vegetarian fare at a Falafel Bar.

“The favored fast food of Israel, the falafel is the model for the modern street taco: a seasoned chick-pea patty in fresh pita bread with hummus and a spicy pepper sauce,” a festival press release said.

“Last year’s Union Avenue Deli was so successful that we knew we had to open again this year,” Holzer said in the release. “It was wonderful to see so many of our friends and neighbors turn out and just spend time together. The sense of community made for a very special event.”

“Everyone certainly enjoyed the Union Avenue Deli’s foods. We sold out of some items, and one of our guests said he wished we were open every week,” she said.

Sandwich platters which include a pickle, coleslaw, and a drink are $8. Other items are sold individually.

“Well, I would tell you last year we sold out of the Matzo Ball soup. And the people loved Don’s Falafel. And it was probably a tie between the corned beef and the pastrami sandwiches,” Holzer said of what’s popular.

A new addition to the festival will take place this year with Clippinger offering to make a free dinner for four. A drawing will be held to determine a winner.

The festival started as a way to still provide the Temple Beth Israel’s Union Avenue Deli food booth that was once part of a DelGrosso’s Amusement Park event, the website said. It closed after scheduling conflicts several years in a row between the event and the observance of the Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

“We had such a good time last year and you cannot believe how many people would come over and say, ‘When are you doing it again? Why don’t you do this more often?'” Holzer said.

Holzer said they also held an office day this spring for which they made food for delivery or pick up. It was also successful, she said.

Temple Beth Israel’s Rabbi Audrey Korotkin, Clippinger’s wife, experienced a favorable reaction from people, as well.

“From my perspective what made it so successful last year was that we had something for everybody,” she said in an email. “You wouldn’t expect vegetarians to come to a deli that features corned beef and pastrami, but because we had Don’s vegetarian falafel bar, it was a big hit with everyone. Lots of people came after their church services. I’ve been stopped by scores of people since the ‘Matters of Faith’ interfaith series in July about when we’re going to have the deli again.”

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.