On the surface, it’s a typical summer festival — funnel cakes, handmade jewelry, a climbing wall, live music, kids crafts, street food, face painting, community booths and a cheerful mash of people.
But at today’s 19th annual Boulder Jewish Festival, there’s a twist. The music is by Jewish artists, the funnel cakes are kosher and the lines of booths feature Jewish organizations.
“What we love about this day is how welcoming the community is,” said Cheryl Fellows, an organizer of the event. “It’s friendly and fun. We have great food and great music.’
A Jewish blues musician, a trio of acoustic musicians, a group of central Asian dancers and folk musicians and a klezmer band were all
New this year were performances by Saul Kaye, a blues musician, and Tofakhon, a group that highlights the music of the Bukharian Jews, whose backgrounds are rooted in the Tajik, Russian and other Central Asian areas.
“We want to introduce our culture, music and traditions,” said singer Guli Rakhimova.
Brenda Burnell, of Niwot, said her family attends every year to support the Har Hashem house band, eat good food, see friends and enjoy the kids’ activities.
“If you want to see somebody from the Jewish community, you just come here and eventually you’ll see them,” she said.
For kids, there was a climbing wall, face painting crafts and “Israeli” kickball — a staple of Jewish summer camps that mar or may not have its origins in Israel.
To play, children stand against the walls of an octagonal pit, using their hands to toss a soft rubber ball at their opponents. Get hit below the knees and you’re out.
Festival goers also could talk religion with Boulder rabbis, politics with groups involved with Israel or history and culture with non-profits like the Boulder Jewish Community Center.
“It’s a really amazing event,” said Wendy Aronson, assistant executive director at the Jewish Community Center. “It showcases our community in a really nice way.”
New to the festival was an organization looking to sign people up for the national marrow donor registry. Jewish people, like those of other ethnicities, are underrepresented, making it less that they would find a match.
“It’s a very easy way for people to give a part of themselves to help someone else beat a cancer,” said Susan Marcus, who lives in Golden.
The festival is known for its diversity, bringing together those who are liberal, orthodox or aren’t part of a synagogue.
“It’s a great opportunity to see a part of the Jewish community you don’t usually see,” said Rabbi Pesach Scheiner of Chabad Lubavitch of Boulder County. “Maybe they aren’t members of a synagogue, but they’re still very proud Jews. It’s a unity of the Jewish community. A lot of people come just to celebrate.”