Kansas City Jewish Arts Festival: Henna, Hot Chocolate and HBHA Trivia

Alex Sher


On Oct. 6, 2013, hundreds of Jews gathered in tall, white booths set up on the Kansas City Jewish Community Center, Overland Park, KS parking lot to eat delicious food, see amazing art by local and international artists, listen to great music and just have an enjoyable social afternoon. The Jewish Arts Festival brings the entire community together to sell, buy and enjoy artwork, food, activities and music inspired by the Jewish culture. At this event, the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy had two booths. At one booth, HBHA students, junior Sophia Porter and senior Shani Solomon, drew henna tattoos for a small fee to raise money for the school. At the other booth, HBHA Student Council members and teachers promoted the school. They played a Jewish trivia game, passed out HBHA pencils, sold shoelaces and taught others about the school in general.

The theme of HBHA’s informational booth was the beginning of Jewish education and was focused toward prospective students and families. At the same time, the booth allowed an informal forum for faculty members, alumni, current families and students to interact.

HBHA Director of Admissions, Tamara Schuster, loved the opportunity to represent the school to the entire community. “It’s so nice to see the entire Jewish community come together and to see HBHA be a part of the community,” said Schuster.

Younger children, and those looking for an even more casual forum, were able to connect with HBHA at the student-run henna booth. Porter, who discovered henna for the first time at a previous Jewish Arts Festival, was encouraged by HBHA Art Teacher Kelly Reichman to bring her talents to the Jewish Arts Festival. With the support of the school, Porter and Senior Shani Solomon were able to bring henna to the Jewish Community throughout the festival. The girls decorated children’s faces and hands with intricate designs while teaching them about the historical significance of henna, which has been used in Jewish traditions (often referred to as Campshire) for thousands of years.The money they raised went to fundraising for HBHA’s 11th and 12th grade trip to Israel.

“It let us show our creativity and have fun while we were fundraising for our school,” said Solomon.

While HBHA students were certainly present at the two school booths, they could be found helping out all over the festival. Junior David Robinow, who sold coffee, hot chocolate and donuts for his youth group, NCSY, the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, was just one of the many students taking on a leadership role at the festival.

HBHA students and staff members supported the festival in a wide variety of ways. They supported various different organizations and took on different roles for the festival. However, despite these differences, a feeling of pride of Kansas City’s Jewish community could be felt by all.

“It was a great social day for the community to be in one place towards the same purpose: celebrating Jewish life,” said Schuster.