Happy (Belated) Birthday to Jewlicious

yom_heuledetDeep inside Jerusalem’s Machne Yehuda market sits the international headquarters of Jewlicious.

And, one week ago tonight, hours prior to Jewlicious celebrating five, good years, I sat with founder, friend and community influencer David Abitbol, aka “ck”, for an update on Jewlicious and their various projects. The plan was a post the next morning. Sometimes, though, life gets in the way. So today, a belated mazel tov!

You might ask, what is Jewlicious / who is Jewlicious? A Website; a festival; a community? All this and more. Centering around a dynamic Internet presence with 220,000 unique visitors/month, Jewlicious is geared to a varied audience; tech savy, plugged in and almost completely divorced from the organized Jewish community. Not just unconnected, but a significant number of their site visitors are not particularly Jewish aware. Serving up interesting content on a regular basis to this group is a challenge. But this community of thirty-six diverse writers has admirably filled the void, producing 4700 posts which have generated 70,000 comments! Not to shabby.

During this period, Jewlicious – with their own brand of irrevance and love of Israel – has also sponsored twelve Birthright-Israel trips, directly touching over 500 participants, given birth to a Russian language version, jewlicious.ru, and has a Spanish edition in the works.

The crown jewel in the Jewlicious family is the Jewlicious Festival – a three-day gathering of Jewish students & young adults. Occupying the entire 85,000 sq. ft. Alpert JCC in Long Beach, California, the Festival features leading Jewish personalities, musicians, artists, and writers from around the world all coming together for a world-class concert series, inspiring Shabbat experiences, discussions and workshops. Described as “an event unlike any other weekend in Jewish history,” Jewlicious unites trend-setters, artists and spirit seekers; Ashkenazim, Sefardim, Persians and Mizrachim; atheists, agnostics, skeptics and believers; designers, activists, jocks, and hipsters – joining together in celebration, learning and fun.

In five years, the festival has directly touched over 3500 participants. Under the extraordinary guidance of Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, and his wife Rachel, the Long Beach team has literally mined diamonds from coal; received extraordinary buy-in from the Long Beach Jewish community – including Chabad, the local Federation and individual donors and supporters – to create an event all call their own.

As year six begins, Jewlicious is not sitting on its laurels. Premiering next month is the first ever Camp Jewlicious, a four-day happening focused on leadership development and grass-root initiatives geared to their core demographic of college-age individuals. I expect we’ll have more on this new venture in August. Also, look for an exciting new initiative in Jerusalem just as winter begins.

There you have it in a nutshell. Five years of hard work; team effort; definable impact.

May Jewlicious live to 120!