The Moorestown Business Association Autumn Day festival has always been held on the second Sunday of October. For the past 17 year the MBA has held its festival on the same weekend, but there is a large contingency in Moorestown Township who are wondering why the festival can’t be moved off of one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar.
On Saturday, Oct. 8, while the Autumn Day festival is being held, those who follow the Jewish faith in Moorestown will be unable to attend. Most will be recognizing Yom Kippur on that day, said resident Daniel Feinberg, and will be unable to attend the event.
Also, it was a controversial enough decision that at least one MBA board member resigned from the organization because of the decision.
But too many, Feinberg said, it’s not about the decision to hold the festival on Yom Kippur, it’s the response — or lack of one — from the MBA and its president Mark Morgan.
“I was disappointed in his response. I’ll explain why. All that we needed as a Jewish community in Moorestown, was a statement saying this wasn’t a good idea, we won’t do this again and we’ll look out for this conflict in the future,” Feinberg said. “Instead what we got was a statement saying they were worried about the vendors not showing up and they were relieved that it was going to be ok. They’re excluding a big part of our community by doing this.”
Feinberg was referencing a statement published by the MBA on Monday, Sept. 19, on its official website.
In the statement, Morgan apologized for the festival being held on Yom Kippur and explained why the MBA believed that the festival could not be rescheduled.
“If this event were to be cancelled, not only would the vendors and car owners be forced to find another festival to attend at the last minute, but they more than likely would not return to Moorestown in future years,” the statement reads. “If this event were to be moved to another date, the MBA would be fighting against other more-established, two-day festivals that these vendors and car owners have already registered to attend.”
Morgan went on to write that the leaders of the MBA felt that rescheduling the festival would be “tantamount” to cancelling the event. It could have long-term impacts on the festival in the future, he said.
The next time the festival and Yom Kippur will coincide will be in 2024.
“The MBA hopes to be still hosting successful “Autumn In Moorestown Festivals” through 2024, and will work with leaders of the Moorestown Jewish Community in advance of that year’s event to see if there is an alternate solution to this conflict. Again, the MBA apologizes to the Moorestown Jewish Community for this unfortunate conflict,” the statement reads.
Despite the business association’s reasoning for the decision, MBA Board Member Susan Buchwald resigned in protest. The president/chief executive officer of Community Treatment Solutions said she was angered that the MBA didn’t write a letter of apology to the Jewish community sooner.
“With the exception of my early objections and suggestions, I have purposely remained out of the mix about the discussion regarding the upcoming autumn in Moorestown Day scheduled on Yom Kippur because I cannot be objective. As a Jew I cannot be flexible or understanding about a major event being held on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. As a professional who works with children, I cannot support a message of exclusion, no matter how indirect it is and, as an individual committed to diversity and cultural competency I cannot be part of an organization that is willing to compromise these values,” she wrote. “After everything we have learned from history, I am devastated that this could happen in our community!”
Buchwald said she had been a member of MBA board for the past year.
To read the entire statement published by the MBA, visit the group’s website at www.moorestownbusiness.com.