Why would a prominent hip and knee orthopedic surgeon who has been rated as one of Castle Connelly’s top regional doctors since 2009 be so deeply and personally involved in the second annual charity barbecue in the mid-Atlantic area? With more than two decades of performing primary and complex joint replacement surgery, Dr. Stuart L. Gordon says, “I still love helping people walk more comfortably. It’s all I want to do.”
Facilitating his patients’ path of recovery so they resume their normal lifestyle is reflective of Dr. Gordon’s kind and compassionate nature and his commitment to dedicating his efforts to the greater good. This is precisely why he is the impetus behind Hava Nagrilla, which he describes as “one of the largest outdoor events in the area, and a true celebration of community. I believe in building strong communities among all Jews—k’ish echad, b’lev echad, like one person with one heart. I feel very strongly about helping people. This is my way of saying ‘thank you’ and giving back to the community. Last year, we had more than 4,500 attendees—from Rhode Island to Florida—representing every spectrum of Jewry. What an amazing feeling to be part of such a diverse group of people, united in solidarity for a worthy cause.”
During the course of our interview, Dr. Gordon revealed yet another intriguing facet of his personality—his passion for good food, particularly smoked delicacies. “I love smoked barbecue and I love smoked brisket,” he says. “I enjoy good food and was a food judge for ten years.”
By all indications, this year’s event promises to exceed all expectations, featuring a stellar program and drawing a crowd of over 6,000 attendees to savor the best of barbecue, bourbon, and beer, and experience great camaraderie and five-star entertainment while performing the mitzvah of tzedakah on a beautiful summer day.
Graciously hosted by the Men’s Club of Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, the second annual charity festival will be held at 1001 Remington Road, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 26, the highly anticipated event is the largest kosher charity festival in the country and is certified by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Twenty teams will compete under the competition guidelines of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and the highest halachic standards of Keystone K Kashrus, administered by Rabbi Naftali Eisemann.
“I want to stress the impeccable level of kashrus that attendees can expect at the Hava Nagrilla Charity Festival,” Dr. Gordon explained. “My intention is for everyone to feel comfortable that the kashrus meets the most stringent standards. Four mashgichim will be present throughout the entire event. Following Havdallah, they will light the first grill; then, the barbecue team will be smoking the barbecue.”
He adds, “We have six or seven teams from the New York / New Jersey area that will be competing. This is a very serious competition that spectators will be able to watch. We give the teams all the glatt kosher meats and they compete on the same smoker to see who can smoke the best brisket. I want people to come and enjoy and celebrate a day of Jewish values. What could be better than barbecue, bourbon, and beer on a beautiful summer day?”
“We welcome all barbecue enthusiasts and backyard chefs from the Philadelphia area and beyond to join the competition, which will begin on Saturday evening after sundown,” said Dr. Gordon. “We strive to promote Jewish values and kindle community spirit while enjoying sumptuous kosher foods such as brisket sandwiches, lamb, chicken, sausages, hamburgers, hot dogs, and vegetarian dishes.
The goal of Hava Nagrilla Charity Barbeque Festival is to bring community together and support the work of the Jewish Relief Agency, relieving hunger, improving lives, and strengthening their bonds of fellowship. Organized 19 years ago, the Jewish Relief Agency is a food charity organization that distributes food to thousands of people in need to their homes, with the utmost level of dignity, respect, and kindness.
With three times more vendors than last year’s festival, Hava Nagrilla is bigger and better than before, with shorter lines and lower prices. “We will be raffling off a large Big Green Egg smoker, compliments of Kitchen Kapers,” says Dr. Gordon. “We have a lot of community vendors. This year, we are featuring all-male performers exclusively, including the inimitable Rabbi Menachem Schmidt who will be performing with his Baal Shem Tov Band.
Due to the highly enthusiastic response, we advise you to purchase tickets quickly to avoid disappointment. On-trend khaki and pink women’s baseball caps as well as t-shirts should be preordered as well, as supplies are limited. The distance between Manhattan and the festival is approximately 2 hours 15 minutes. Shuttle parking is available at the JCC Kaiserman site.
Truly, this is the event of the summer—a fabulous fun-filled family-oriented charity festival chockablock with exciting and entertaining activities for everyone—from the tiniest tots to the treasured seniors and everyone in between. With nonstop action, there’s nary a moment to spare! Attendees will enjoy the aforementioned 20 Kansas City Barbeque Society smoke teams competing for the Mid-Atlantic barbeque grand trophy. Savor world-class kosher food, including sumptuous smoked brisket sandwiches, vegetarian cuisine, a craft beer garden, Scotch and bourbon table, and did I mention Judd’s Memphis Kitchen barbeque, the smoke barbecue, and pickle-eating contest? Hava Nagrilla T-shirts, kosher-food vendors, face-painting, mechanical-bull riding, craft vendors, live music, and so much more.
And speaking of live music, Hava Nagrilla 2018 is proud to feature Six13—America’s premiere Jewish a cappella singing sensation. Boasting an ever-expanding fan base, Six13 is a national phenomenon, both on the Internet—with over eight million views on YouTube—and in traditional media, featured on national television and press including the Today Show, the View, CBS, CNN, Huffington Post, Time Magazine, and more. They have performed at the White House, the Kennedy Performing Arts Center, and are three-time finalists for NBC prime-time hit “The Sing-Off.”
For the Columbia Presbyterian-trained Dr. Gordon, who has performed 10,000 hip and knee surgeries, orchestrating Hava Nagrilla to fruition is a labor of love. “This has never been a task for me,” he explains. “My Jewish soul is involved in it completely. It is my dream. It is my life.”
For more information on Hava Nagrilla, please visit PhillyKosherBbq.com.
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator, and writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. She welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com. Read more of Rochelle Miller’s articles at 5TJT.com.