‘Vibrancy of contemporary Jewish culture’ on display at 'Sababa' arts, culture festival | St. Louis Public Radio

‘Vibrancy of contemporary Jewish culture’ on display at 'Sababa' arts, culture festival

Oct 12, 2018

St. Louis has been home to a vibrant Jewish community for many decades. This weekend, an arts and culture festival will bring together various artists and musicians across the country to showcase Jewish talents, food and customs.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the upcoming festival, billed as “Sababa.” It’s a joint effort by the St. Louis Jewish Community Center (The J), St. Louis Jewish Federation and other local organizations. Joining the conversation were artist Rachel Zolotov and musician Will Soll, both of whom are participating in the event. Rabbi Brad Horwitz, director of Jewish Engagement & Adult Programs at The J, also joined the program.

“Sababa” is Hebrew slang for something that is “cool” or “awesome.”

“It’s a hip vibe; we want this festival to be something that’s really current and contemporary and focusing on Jewish life,” Horwitz said.

Soll played klezmer music on a mandolin throughout Friday’s segment.

“I knew nothing about [klezmer] when I started [playing]. It kind of came to me that this was something that would connect me to my Jewish roots, the Jewish community; I heard a little of it and it was a wonderful adventure of discovery,” Soll said. “I love this stuff.”

Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe – but the mandolin is not a usual klezmer instrument used for the tune, such as the violin or clarinet. But Soll wanted to “find a voice” for the mandolin in klezmer music.

‘Vibrancy in contemporary Jewish culture’

Zolotov, a local designer of unique jewelry, hand-makes pieces using natural stones, antique jewelry and intricate weaving.

“I do not use any Jewish symbols per se in all of my jewelry but I have a strong Jewish background and I love antiques and vintage, and just sort of is a history looking at my pieces,” Zolotov said.

Horwitz emphasized that the free festival is open for all, regardless of whether attendees are Jewish.

“We want to showcase the vibrancy of contemporary Jewish culture with the people of St. Louis,” he added.

Related Event:

What: Sababa Festival
When: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday, October 14, 2018 
Where: Washington University (6475 Forsyth Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63105)

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Alex HeuerEvie HemphillLara Hamdan and Xandra Ellin give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.