“Feeling at Home” in spite of the rockets

The roads to Sderot are not packed with vehicles every day, but on Wednesday, 15 October, more cars were on their way to Sderot than those roads had seen for years. Families from all over Israel drove to the kassam-rocketed town on the second day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. They wanted to support the morale of the people of Sderot by attending a festival of ethnic food the community was holding during those days. The organizers called it Feeling at Home. The festival featured not only a large variety of authentic ethnic food, but also many musical and other cultural activities. This festival lasted for two days, from 15 October until 17 October, and it featured activities for families and individuals of all ages.

Photo: Hamutal Ben Shitrit

Osem, the Israeli food giant, working closely with the Sderot municipality, organized the festival in order to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Israel’s independence. Osem felt it was particularly important to do it specifically in Sderot, because Sderot’s people continue to suffer from rocket attacks. The festival featured unusual ethnic dishes from Georgia, Kurdistan, and Morocco. Visitors to the festival could experience many new and interesting kinds of food. Cheeses made by Sderot residents according to traditional methods attracted particularly strong attention at their booth. They could also admire the traditional craftsmanship Sderot’s inhabitants learned from their parents and grandparents who had been born in traditional societies in those countries. Some of these treasures were also for sale.

An especially interesting feature of the festival was that people took guided tours around Sderot’s huge Osem factory, where they could see how popular Israeli snacks like Bisli are made, and also the “shkedim”, or soup nuts, come into being. Everybody who toured the factory was invited to draw something on the huge mural wall that Osem is preparing to give to the residents of Sderot.

Music followed people as they walked among the many booths at the festival. Well-known Israeli performers, such as Sarit Haddad, Kobi Apello, Kochav Nolad – the Israeli version of American Idol – added their music to the festival.

Many Sderot residents thanked those who came to show them this moral support. More than a thousand rockets have hit Sderot during the past year. During the so-called “ceasefire”, the Arabs have fired “only” about forty rockets at Sderot and the surrounding area. Anyone who visited Sderot during the festival was taking a small but real risk by entering a town is under rocket fire. The people of Sderot appreciate and understand the risk their visitors took to come to their town. The residents did their best to make them feel at home at a festival called “Feeling at Home.”


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