‘Representative and inclusive’: The 25th anniversary of the Boulder Jewish Festival

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A shot from the Boulder Jewish Festival 2018
Edmond Shapiro

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Boulder Jewish Festival (BJF), a one-day celebration of Jewish culture that is open to the whole community. 

“The festival is both representative and inclusive,” says BJF co-chair Adam Sloat. “It’s representative of different areas of Jewish culture: the food, the art, the music, organizations that are religious based or humanitarian based. And it’s inclusive because it’s something that Jews and non-Jews alike — practicing, not practicing, religious people, non-religious people —  everyone can really enjoy.” 

Rabbis from local synagogues will be on-site to answer questions and dive deep into spiritual musings on the Courthouse Lawn for the Rabbi’s Living Room discussion series. The Kid’s Zone gives little ones a chance to burn some energy in a bounce house and through an obstacle course. Adults can peruse hand-dyed and painted fabrics by Balagan, or custom wooden creations from KNOTS, or other lovingly crafted jewelry, ceramics, watercolors, fiber arts, glass and Judaica books. And when everyone works up an appetite, there’s knishes on hand from LB Kosher Grill, or warm, chewy bagels with lox and cream cheese from Rosenberg’s Bagels, and tons of other culinary options. 

And what celebration would be complete without music? Matthew Banks, a longtime member of the theatrical sensation known as the Blue Man Group, will be performing from the extensive catalog of Billy Joel. Israel-born, San Franscisco-based Lion Ben-Hur, with his eight-piece band Sol Tevél, will deliver positive messages set to uplifting melodies for a unique approach to reggae. Ben-Hur’s musical work provides contemporary interpretations of old Jewish texts, ideals and mysticism. Or Zimrah (translation: radiant song), the house band at Boulder’s Congregation Har HaShem, will be bridging the secular with the sacred by highlighting prayer themes found in pop music — gratitude, creation, redemption and more.

“I pray with my feet. I try and put into action that which I believe,” says Har HaShem Cantorial Soloist Holli Berman. “I believe that Judaism teaches us to do important work in the world and create peace and live by our values. It’s really important to have representation and to see yourself in the world. We’ve learned over these past two years in this country that everyone matters; we all matter and we all can celebrate what makes us unique. We don’t have to come together because we’re all the same.”

On the bill:Boulder Jewish Festival. 11 a.m. Saturday, June 1, Pearl Street Mall, 1200-1400 Blocks, Boulder, 303-998-1900.