OVS Bazaar a Feast of Sephardi Diversity

OVS Bazaar a Feast of Sephardi Diversity

By Patrice Worthy

In addition to menorah lightings, fried food and gift giving, Chanukah in Atlanta means the annual bazaar at Congregation Or VeShalom.

“We’re all so proud of our heritage,” said Angie Weiland, co-chair of the 41st annual OVS Chanukah bazaar, set for Sunday, Dec. 11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Sephardim is a small community, and it represents us and our closeness and our value of the Sephardic tradition.”

The OVS Sisterhood prepares for the bazaar for months.

Throughout the year, the synagogue kitchen is busy during the week with women cooking the congregation’s famous burekas — which are traditional savory Sephardic pies, similar to empanadas, filled with meat, potato, rice or eggplant — for orders. To get ready for the bazaar, the women also prepare sweet delicacies whose recipes have been part of OVS for more than a century.

“It’s a select group of women,” bazaar co-chair Beth Arogeti said. “It’s a tedious operation and can be an all-day process, depending on what they are making.”

As at a Greek festival, Weiland said, the food is the big draw, regardless of attendees’ religion or culture.

OVS members and nonmembers alike will pack the synagogue Dec. 11 for the traditional food.
OVS members and nonmembers alike will pack the synagogue Dec. 11 for the traditional food.

The menu includes travados, a half-moon pastry filled with nuts and dipped in honey; burmellos, which are fried dough dipped in honey; and marouchinos, cookies made with blanched almonds.

The main course is spaghetti served with the OVS Sisterhood’s special sauce.

More than 20 vendors will be selling items such as chanukiahs, mezuzahs, functional pottery, aprons, T-shirts, cookbooks and jewelry. The family-friendly event also offers activities for children, including a moonwalk, arts and crafts, face painting, and a roulette wheel.

Or VeShalom also runs a used book sale and a Chinese auction, during which attendees can bid on 50 bottles of liquor by purchasing $5 tickets.

“You pick out the liquor you like and buy a ticket for $5,” Wieland said. “So, basically, you can get a bottle for $5. People really love it.”

Arogeti said the annual event is a fun way for community members to reconnect, and she looks forward to talking with people she might not see the rest of the year.

Jewish community leaders Deborah Maslia, the board chair of Jewish Home Life Communities; Joel Arogeti, the board chair of the Marcus Jewish Community Center; and Joel Marks, the board chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, will be among the OVS members selling tickets at the door.

Rabbi Hayyim Kassorla said the foundation of a thriving synagogue is not one person, but an organization of people.

“Not only does our congregation include original families from Greece and Turkey who can trace their ancestry back to Sephardic Spain, but our congregation has blossomed to boast all the nationalities,” Rabbi Kassorla said.

He said the OVS Sisterhood chooses to do the bazaar year after year to celebrate the diverse OVS community.

“We believe our synagogue is unique,” Rabbi Kassorla said. “I have to thank the Sisterhood for maintaining and evolving the bazaar because it’s what people look forward to every year. We have Jews from all the Sephardi lands, and they have all found family here. That’s what the synagogue is truly proud of.”

What: Chanukah bazaar

Where: Congregation Or VeShalom, 1681 N. Druid Hills Road, Brookhaven (parking near Cross Keys High School and Woodward Elementary School)

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11

Admission: $3

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