[Source Allison Gatlin, Jewish News of Phoenix] — Vending-machine snacks had better watch their backs — there’s a fresher, sexier snack in town: fruit. Donning a banana suit and a guitar, Erez Kessler, also known as the Israeli Banana, helps at The Fruit Stand on Second Avenue and Adams Street in downtown Phoenix by attracting customers with his unusual garb and songs. Kessler has spent summers in the Greater Phoenix area since 2003, serving as a shaliach (emissary) through the Summer Shlichim Program sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel. The fruit stand is owned by his former “house dad,” Ray Eveleth, with whom Kessler lived during the summers of 2004 and 2005.
Kessler, 30, from Dimona, Israel, traveled with the program to various sleepover and day summer camps around the country as someone who could teach children about life and tradition in Israel and make the lessons entertaining through song. “I came here every summer to deliver the culture of Israel to the children at the summer camps,” Kessler says. “In return I was able to take back some of the U.S. culture with me.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]