by Keely Mills
Deli Days has been a Boise favorite for more than 25 years. However, starting in 2013, in addition to the delicious kugel, pastrami and corn beef. the Treasure Valley also saw Deli Days sandwiched into the Idaho Jewish Cultural Festival. This year, the word ‘cultural’ has been removed and the event is simply the Idaho Jewish Festival.
“I’ve gotten the question several times why isn’t this just called the Boise Jewish Festival,” said Creative Director Oliver Thompson. “The idea is to be as inclusive as possible in the design and in the intent of the festival.”
Though they happen at the same time, organizers say Deli Days and the Idaho Jewish Festival should be looked at as two different events. Deli Days works as a fundraiser for the Synagogue, while the IJF is completely free to the public. But besides being a fundraiser, Deli Days brings something to Boise that otherwise wouldn’t be found here; food is flown in from around the country only to be served up at Boise’s local synagogue.
“Most people in this city are transplants, most of us come from different places,” said Deli Days organizer Billy Gans. “Some of us come from areas where we have a more diverse culture and what we’ve learned over the years is that we miss food from our geographical areas.”
Planning for the event begins practically a year in advance. It’s important to the festival organizers that they are able to serve everyone.
“We want to make sure that the last person who walks into Deli Days will have the same opportunity as the first person who walks in,” Gans said.
Deli Days will be held on Thursday, June 19, and Friday, June 20, though the festival will continue through Saturday. The festival includes music from bands such as Fleet Street Klezmer, Moody Jews and Yale Strom and Elizabeth Schwartz. On Saturday, June 21, there will be a number of different classes and workshops open to the public and completely free. There will be classes on Klezmer music and Israeli folk dance, accompanied by Jewish films that will be showing throughout the day. All classes and films will be held at the synagogue, as opposed to last year’s festival, which included events at The Flicks and Boise Art Museum.
“Part of it was just simplifying the logistics,” Thompson said. “Bringing it all to one venue on our site.” Though with the festival being so young, Thompson added things may change up again next year.
“We’ll assess how did it go and was there enough outreach, did we connect enough with the community or did it feel too exclusive by having everything at one location,” Thompson said.
The main focus of the festival will remain the same—to bring the Jewish culture and community into the light for Boise.
“The heart of the festival is to share the culture of the Jewish people,” Gans said. “It’s more than just about the food, it’s about demystifying who any people are. We want to share who we are with everyone and we’re proud of our culture.”