The San Fernando Valley Alliance announced Friday that it will stage a one-day Jewish cultural fair next May on the Pierce College campus that in effect will replace the now-dormant Jewish community festival once held on the Westside.
Some see the projected $100,000 budget for the Valley Jewish Festival, which would surpass previous such festivals, as a reflection of the Jewish population's shift from the Westside to the San Fernando, Simi, Conejo and Santa Clarita valleys.
The semiautonomous San Fernando Valley Alliance was created earlier this year based on its founders' belief that the Jewish population may be as much as 250,000 in the suburban regions to the north and northwest of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation Council headquarters located on Wilshire Boulevard just east of the Beverly Hills city line.
"Because the Jewish population in the valleys has grown so large, it is incumbent upon us to serve our community with convenient programs," said Encino businessman Earl Greinetz, president of the Valley Alliance. "We have way too many people in the valleys for us to say a major Jewish event has to be located on the Westside."
An outdoor fair known as the Exodus Festival was held in the San Fernando Valley in 1989, 1991 and 1993, but Greinetz said attendance projections for the Valley Jewish Festival on May 21, 1995, reach as high as 50,000--compared to about 40,000 two years ago--with hundreds of exhibitors.
"We're changing the name," he said. "We felt the name 'Exodus' got people confused with the Exodus program that helped Russian Jews."
Greinetz, who will be in New York City this weekend for the quarterly meeting of the Council of Jewish Federations, said it is not known whether another Jewish festival will be staged at Rancho Park on the Westside. That festival has not been held for three or four years.
But, he added, even the recent Exodus festivals in the San Fernando Valley exceeded the turnouts at the Westside fairs sponsored by the Los Angeles Jewish Federation Council.
Dan Shuster, a Woodland Hills businessman, was named chairman of the new Valley Jewish Festival. Shuster is a past president of Temple Ner Maarav in Encino and is on the board of directors at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino.
"We plan on making this festival bigger and better--have a better children's park, more emphasis on ethnic food and a very professional musical concert, among other things," Shuster said.