The Boulder County Center for Judaism and the Boulder JCC are pleased to be able to honor David Fellows, co-founder and co-publisher of the Boulder Jewish News, with the mitzvah of lighting this year’s Community Menorah on the Pearl Street Mall in central Boulder.
Chany Scheiner, Program Director of the Boulder County Center for Judaism, said,
Each year we honor someone whose actions have made a tremendous positive difference to the Boulder Jewish Community. Through the BJN David does an enormous amount to build a better, stronger, and more inclusive Jewish community. Honoring him in this way is our way of telling him how much we appreciate that.”
While the honor goes to David this year, he did not create and does not maintain the BJN alone. He arrived in Boulder nearly 20 years ago with his wife Cheryl, and together they came up with and created this thriving on-line publication.
But there’s more to David’s contributions to Jewish life in Boulder than the BJN. Allen Hittelman, Executive Director of the Boulder Jewish Community Foundation, has known David for “almost two decades” and thinks of him as “a Jewish community organizer, a financial adviser, and a local historian.”
In citing some of David’s many accomplishments, Allen noted that David has served as a financial advisor for numerous local charities, and that he currently serves a photographer for many Jewish community events with the intention of capturing them for historic preservation; as the operator of a community calendar that integrates the calendars of most of Boulder’s Jewish organizations into on comprehensive, easy-to-search repository of what’s happening in Jewish Boulder; the facilitator of a Jewish men’s group that meets on the second Thursday of each month for breakfast and discussion; and, the most recent addition to his to-do list, a supporter of a unique community collaboration called Jewish Together or JT-Boulder (jewishtogetherboulder.org), which is developing web-based resource guides, community events, and studies designed to reduce the operational costs of its member organizations. For this initiative, which is funded by the 18 Pomegranates Foundation and the Boulder Jewish Community Foundation, David recently wrote a white paper on procedures non-profit organizations can use to leverage their resources and thus provide more services without incurring more expenses.
And now, the asking (and answering) of the four questions:
What brought you to Boulder?
We moved here in 1995 as refugees from a Southern California earthquake that occurred in January 1994.
Cheryl, who grew up in Michigan, wasn’t used to the ground moving at all, much less as much as it moved then – and with the resulting damage. We lived about five miles from the epicenter in Northridge, and Cheryl’s parents were even closer. We were without power for three or four days, and had to boil our water for two weeks while LA got its water treatment facilities back on line. Our house sustained minimal damage, but we could see many in our neighborhood and around town who were much less fortunate and we decided it was time to leave town while we were still in one piece.
To that end, we spent several months considering where we might want to live, during which time several people suggested that Boulder met all of our requirements: a Jewish community, close to skiing, good schools, and a fun environment. And, it was only subject to disasters that you could see coming: blizzards, floods, droughts. We thought we could live with those.”
Do you have a favorite Chanukah Memory?
In 2001, the year my parents moved to Boulder, was the first time we had them, Cheryl’s parents, and our two kids all together at our house. That was the first time I really felt Boulder was “home” instead of just a place we had moved.”
Tell us what pushed you to start the Boulder Jewish News?
We both grew up in places where community events were well-documented in a local Jewish newspaper (Detroit and San Francisco). Living in Boulder, we really felt the lack of a regular communication vehicle that wasn’t just about whatever organization was sending it out. After bugging the Intermountain Jewish News (IJN) for ten years, we decided we could do a “new media” on-line publication in this city, which is consistently rated one of the most “connected” in the world.
We started it just after the High Holidays in 2009, and it didn’t take long before our unique visitor count climbed over 3,000 per month. We now average around 5,000 to 6,000 unique visitors a month, with nearly 10,000 page views, and publish 10 to 20 posts per week. Over 200 people have posted at least once to the site.”
Can you share something interesting that happened to you while you have been volunteering in the Boulder Jewish community?
The first time we went to a Boulder Jewish Community Center event after we launched the BJN, the organizer said several people had told him they were there because they read about it in the Boulder Jewish News; we knew we were on the right track.”
No reservations are necessary for this fun, family-friendly event. Just show up on the Pearl Street Mall in front of the Courthouse at 5:30 pm on Wednesday afternoon, December 17th and join the party.
Enormous thanks go out to the Boulder Jewish News, Audrey and Andy Franklin, JEWISH Colorado, JNF, the Oreg Foundation, Rhonda and Bruce Wildman, and Rabbi Popack. Without their generous support, this event would not be possible.