Christmas Eve Parties Compete in Jewish Atlanta

Christmas Eve Parties Compete in Jewish Atlanta

David R. Cohen

David R. Cohen is the former Associate Editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times. He is originally from Marietta, GA and studied Journalism at the University of Tennessee.

Young Jewish adults looking for some Christmas Eve fun have at least three options next week, expanding on a tradition that is older than most of the attendees.

In the late 1970s Atlantan Barry Dreayer was bored with sitting around Christmas Eve and began hosting an annual Willie Nelson-themed party that became the place to be for Atlanta’s Jewish singles.

A few years later, David Diamond and David Weisman began hosting Christmas Eve parties at the Masquerade on North Avenue. These “David and David” events featured live music and were a fixture from 1984 until the early 1990s.

The 2014 Matzoball in Miami was hosted at LIV nightclub.
The 2014 MatzoBall in Miami was hosted at LIV nightclub.

The mid-1990s saw the rise of the MatzoBall, an event hosted by Boston native Andy Rudnick. For more than a decade the MatzoBall gave local Jews something to do on Christmas Eve, but in 2011 the event was absent from the city.

In its wake, the Atlanta Jewish community produced the Bagel Bash at the Buckhead Theatre from 2011 to 2013. Last December brought Gozapalooza, an event hosted by Goza Tequila founders Adam Hirsch and Jacob Gluck at the Havana Club in Buckhead.

Gozapalooza will return Thursday, Dec. 24, but at a different venue, Buckhead’s Gold Room nightclub.

Rudnick’s MatzoBall also will return to the city for the first time in five years at the Havana Club, providing Christmas Eve choices for Jews in Atlanta.

Added to the mix is the Jew Jam, hosted at Steve’s Live Music in Sandy Springs with live music performed by Tony Levitas, Mark Michelson, Zale and others.

Are three competing events on Christmas Eve too many?

Rudnick doesn’t think so.

“Competition is a wonderful thing,” he said. “I’m happy about it. It provides more opportunities for young Jewish kids to meet.”

He added, “Atlanta has a relatively large Jewish population, many of whom I’m sure are eager to get out and party on Christmas Eve.”

Last year as Atlanta’s only Jewish Christmas Eve event, Gozapalooza was attended by nearly 800 people.

Gozapalooza is set for Dec. 24 at the Gold Room in Buckhead.
Gozapalooza is set for Dec. 24 at the Gold Room in Buckhead.

Tickets to the Jew Jam are $15, to Gozapalooza are $25 with a free drink, and to the Matzoball are $30. Gluck and Hirsch have partnered with Marcus Jewish Community Center Young Adults, the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival and GrapeVine, while MatzoBall has ties to the Society of Young Jewish Professionals and JDate.

“We’ve teamed up with the Young Adults division of the Marcus Jewish Community Center, and the proceeds from the event go to JCC,” Hirsch said. “Goza is a new brand that launched this year, and very much like our product, which is fun and different, we wanted an option for Christmas Eve that was fun, and we want people to have a good time.”

The MatzoBall will take place in 15 cities on Christmas Eve, including Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego and New York. Gozapalooza, meanwhile, remains local.

Despite competition for attendance, an abundance of Jewish-themed Christmas Eve gatherings in Atlanta can be seen as a good thing.

“Something that attendees over the past 10 years to these things have said is that there was no effort to make it better or different,” Goza’s Gluck said. “So that’s one reason we changed the venue, and we’re doing things like bringing in food trucks. We don’t want to rest on our laurels and assume that people don’t have anything else to do.”

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