A local l’chaim

Boulder Jewish Festival returns bigger than in previous years

I Am Grateful, by Risa Aqua
Joseph Wirth | Boulder Weekly

It’s hard to find a good corned beef sandwich in Boulder, especially now that the Jimmy and Drew’s deli has moved their Katz Deli-style restaurant to the heart of Denver.

But have no fear, beef lovers, because the Boulder Jewish Festival is here on June 9, offering live music, traditional Jewish food and art, and an all-day celebration at the Boulder Courthouse lawn and Pearl Street Mall in honor of the thriving Jewish community in Boulder and the entire city.

“The Jewish Festival is really a big thing for the community,” says Cheryl Fellows, the executive director of Boulder Jewish News and one of the main volunteer coordinators of the event. “It’s a perfect example of how the Jewish organizations in our community work together, and the festival itself is such a great expression of how our community supports each other.”

Fellows says that during the last couple of years there have been fewer artists than in the years before the economic recession, but in 2013 the number of artists at the festival has stacked up once again, symbolizing the upturn in the economy.

Fellows says that the growth of the Boulder Jewish Festival in general over the past 19 years is also symbolic of the overall growth of the Jewish community in the Denver-Boulder area.

“The festival is a way in which people connect, and it demonstrates how the growth of the community over time grows along with the festival,” says Jonathan Lev, the executive director of the Boulder Jewish Community Center. “As the festival grows, the community grows and vice versa.”

The 2007 Metro-Boulder Jewish Community Study shows that there were around 50,000 Jewish households and 85,000 Jewish adults in the Denver-Boulder area. In Boulder, the number of Jewish households in 2007 was 7,500, including 19,500 people. These statistics take mixed marriages and non-Jewish people living in those households into consideration as well.

“We have a really concentrated Jewish community,” Fellows says. “We’ve got lots of different synagogues, so for people who are interested in Jewish community, we pretty much have all the different flavors, and because we have such a diverse offering it’s very attractive.”

It’s the live music from seven different bands, the ethnic flavors of more than eight different restaurants, and the variety of creativity from the 20 different artists that will be selling their work at the Boulder Jewish Festival that makes the festival worthwhile for everyone, organizers say.

One of the headlining musical groups, which will be playing at 2 p.m. on June 9, is Sababa, which includes Denver native Steve Brodsky, who has played the Boulder Jewish Festival with various groups for 13 years. Brodsky says that the center stage of the festival attracts a lot of people that would have otherwise not have known about the Jewish Festival.

“The festival has grown to be quite big,” Brodsky says. “I always get a kick out of how people are just walking down the mall on a Sunday afternoon and hear something that catches their ear, and then later someone always come up to me afterwards and says, ‘Oh, I’m Jewish and I didn’t even know this was happening. What is this, who are you guys?’ And they just kind of wander along and stumble upon the festival and find a connection.”

These connections that are made at the festival are the heart of what the Jewish Festival is all about, according to Lev.

“There are some significant things happening within the Boulder Jewish community that aren’t happening anywhere else in the country,” says Lev, referring to the festival and other opportunities the Boulder Jewish community offers. “The heart of the Jewish Festival is giving an opportunity to connect, exchange ideas and have fun together in a completely open environment without any baggage. Come, be yourself, be part of this, learn new things, eat some food and have fun while you’re doing it.”

To learn more about every musician, artist and many more details about the 2013 Boulder Jewish Festival download the smartphone application by going to my.yapp.us/boulderjfest.

The Boulder Jewish Festival takes place Sunday, June 9 on the Boulder Courthouse lawn and the Pearl Street Mall. Festivities start at 11 a.m. For more information, visit boulderjewishfestival.org.

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