Steelers Sunday looks to be a Steelers fun day on Oct. 1, as teens from around the area are invited to participate in J-Fest on Darlington. The one-day event, which will last from noon until 3 p.m. on Darlington Road outside of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, will welcome an array of activities and free food for those seeking to join the collaborative engagement, explained Andrew Exler, an event organizer and Keystone Mountain Region BBYO regional director.
Whether you want to watch the Steelers away game against the division-rival Ravens on a giant big-screen TV, participate in programs with AEPi fraternity members, engage in community service opportunities, learn about the upcoming holiday of Sukkot while sitting in a sukkah or even step into a free Zumba class led by JCC instructors, there are countless opportunities for teens at J-Fest. Said Exler: “We want every Jewish teen to come and enjoy it in some way.”
J-Fest’s multiple program offerings denote that the event was designed to be as collaborative as possible, said Alex Cohen, co-regional president of KMR BBYO.
“We want everybody to come no matter background or affiliation,” agreed Exler, who added that all of the food will be “100 percent kosher.”
The impetus for creating inclusive teen programming follows the success of last year’s Voice Your Vote event at Dave & Buster’s. As the nation tuned in to follow the state-by-state results of the most recent presidential election, hundreds of Jewish teenagers from diverse backgrounds and locations across Western Pennsylvania descended on the Homestead-located arcade and restaurant for a night of discussion, free food and introductions.
“J-Fest on Darlington is this year’s version of that event,” said Exler, who added that apart from the vast amounts of fun generated by the Dave & Buster’s event, Voice Your Vote was “an educational” experience.
“Because of how successful last year’s event was, we reached out to different organizations around the community to do something [similar],” the organizer said.
Accordingly, a team of 10 to 12 teenagers from a host of Jewish youth groups planned J-Fest on Darlington, said Cohen.
“With the reins in hand, those teens were able to take ownership of the event,” said Exler.
“Because of the diverse representation involved, the product should be something of incredible inclusion,” added Cohen.
Registration for the totally free one-day street festival is not required but encouraged, said the organizer, as it helps “track” where the teens are coming from. Free round-trip busing will be provided from the South Hills, Wexford and Fox Chapel.
“We’re trying to hit every element of this,” said Exler. “This event is for teens and by teens.”
Having community-wide collaborate programming for teens is important, said Chris Herman, division director of the Jewish Life Department at the JCC.
When asked what people should know about the upcoming J-Fest event, Cohen, a senior at Upper St. Clair High School, said that it is a “culmination” of opportunities, adding that regardless of background or denomination, Jewish teenagers “can come together and do something awesome and inclusive.” pjc
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.