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Women from Sderot and other Gaza Strip periphery communities are turning ethnic culinary specialties into business ventures. They will be promoting their food and services at a festival during Succot aimed at bringing business activity back to the area.
"We have high hopes that exposure of the festival will help to strengthen and develop women's cooperative businesses in Sderot, Mirhavim and for the Orthodox women of Netivot and boost business activity," Smadar Kaplinsky, initiator of the women's cooperative business, told The Jerusalem Post Thursday. "The women have realized that they have a valuable asset they can sell to make a living and raise their living standard."
The "Feeling at Home" culinary festival will take place in Sderot from October 15 to 17. It is being sponsored by Osem at an investment of NIS 6 million.
The festival will be free of charge. It is expected to attract 10,000 visitors to the area, which has been the target of Kassam rocket attacks for several years, and generate revenues of about NIS 1m. for the benefit of businesses and restaurants.
Throughout the festival Osem will, for the first time, open its Sderot factory to the public. Local artists and musicians will perform at one of the parks in the area.
Some 30 cooks, most of them women, will prepare and sell ethnic food at the Sderot market, according to their countries of origin, including Moroccan, Kurdish, Ethiopian, Indian, Tunisian, Persian and Karaite specialties. In addition, area restaurants will display and sell specialty food items.
The idea of the group of women, who range in age from the 40s to 70s, is to research their roots and teach each other about their former communities, holidays and traditions, including culinary traditions, and commercialize their cooking for catering events at bar mitzvas and other festivities.
"This year we had two families one from New York and one from San Francisco who decided to celebrate a bar mitzva and a bat mitzva in Sderot using our cooking catering services," Kaplinsky said.
A group of women has already traveled to New Jersey, where they catered for Independence Day events organized by United Jewish Communities.
"Most of these women have never been on a plane or traveled abroad, but the cooperative gives the opportunity to get out of the house and raise money," Kaplinsky said.