Every year at Chanukah, the Boulder County Center for Judaism unpacks the largest menorah in Boulder County and schleps it to WinterSkate in downtown Louisville where the honor of lighting it is given to a member of the local Jewish community. This year’s Lamplighters are Adam and Dani Sloat, who returned after living out-of-state for many years and jumped right into giving their time and enthusiasm to the Louisville Jewish community.
Jonathan Lev, Executive Director of the Boulder JCC, said, “When Adam and Dani moved here a few years ago, they immediately engaged with the JCC and the Jewish community as a whole. They consistently give of their time and step up to leadership positions that truly impact our community. From Dani’s role at our gala to Adam’s role with the Boulder Jewish Festival, which led to him becoming co-chair this year, they walk the walk. And to honor them in Louisville, where they live and give so much, is really special.”
Adam’s father, Jerry Sloat, a local attorney and someone who also contributes enormously to the Jewish community said, “We are really happy for Adam to return to Boulder and it’s great to have him and his family here. Gail and I are really proud of Adam and Dani’s involvement in the Boulder Jewish community and Adam’s connection with Louisville.”
We asked Adam a few questions about their community work. Here is what he had to say:
What was Boulder like when you were growing up?
Smaller, a college town feel. I miss it, but all things change and evolve. I was born at Boulder Community Hospital in 1973 and I was a “latchkey kid” by the time I was 8. I spent weekends with my dad and weekdays with my mom. Our apartment was at 9th and Arapahoe and I remember coming home from Flatirons Elementary while she was in class at CU Law School, getting on my bike and riding to Pearl Street to play pinball, maybe to get a big cookie at Old Chicago, or going to the corner store for baseball cards. Key around my neck. A very different time in a lot of ways. I left for college in New Orleans at 18 and spent 25 years away, coming back for visits, which provided unique time-travel snapshots of a growing town. Every time I was back, there’d be new restaurants and more traffic. But it’s still a very special place and what hasn’t changed for many of us is a sense of community.
Your parents have been involved in the Jewish community in Boulder for many years, what do you try to emulate?
I had a limited sense of their involvement as a kid. I think my mom was part of Hadassah, though my primary memory of Hadassah was their annual rummage sale and the sad day when my dad donated my entire (awesome) comic book collection. Not really his fault – I put items to donate in a trash bag for him and I think my comics were in another one. He reasonably took both…. I later was aware of my stepmom’s involvement with the community. My dad has sounded the Shofar forever at Congregation Har HaShem and throughout Boulder County during the High Holidays. The sounding of it reminds us of sacrifice, but it is also a call of pride; it’s a powerful sound that calls our community together in a shared experience. That’s been part of my life forever and I’ll go on record here (to help commit myself), that I will be putting in the time to learn/re-learn from him and to see if I can earn the honor of joining him in the sounding, maybe even someday taking the baton (aka Shofar). I say that with all humility, knowing that I’ll have a long way to go to earn the privilege.
In 2015, I was able to fly in to attend the JCC’s Reflections Gala in 2015 to see my dad and Gail be honored as Bright Stars. I had been travelling for a week, having put on a huge event for a client in NYC, followed by running my booth at a campus programming event in Minneapolis. By the time I got to Boulder the day of the event, I was fried. But that night was pretty special. Something happened to me that night. I felt the importance of community, I felt the pull of family. I found myself wanting that for my wife and kids. I had always felt connected, even though I lived so far away (in California), but watching their tribute video moved and inspired me. After a tough week of work that was financially rewarding but soul-exhausting, I felt revived. That night in my room at the Omni, I started looking at local listings on Zillow and considering discussing the pros/cons of moving with my wife. Fortunately, it was mostly pros and it set in motion our return to Boulder County, a move that allowed me to figure out how to feel fulfilled and rewarded in my work-life by becoming a local real estate agent, and developing my commitment to our community. The community part was pretty organic; our kids spent three years at the Boulder JCC preschool. Within the first year I helped organize JAMbalaya for the first concert event in the new JCC building. For the past two years I have been the music director for the Boulder Jewish Festival, and I’m the music director for Har HaShem’s upcoming Harmony+Hops in 2019. While real estate is my fulltime work, it’s nice to utilize my music business background to give back to our community as a volunteer!
What is your favorite Chanukah memory?
That’s easy; celebrating with kids of my own. Seeing their eyes as we lit the candles, teaching them about the traditions.
We hear that you are one of the two new coordinators of the beloved Boulder Jewish Festival in 2019. Can we expect any special new features?
Yes, I’m so honored! We started with my wonderful friend Terri Miro as a chair, but I quickly joined her as co-chair because we work well together and share the same vision. New features, hmmm…. Not sure I want to provide any spoilers yet! Last year was the big year of new features when we moved from the bricks to the Courthouse lawn and opened things up. That was a big goal of mine, feeling that the tent for music separated it from the rest of the festival. Things were a little spread out on Pearl Street and we wanted to bring everything together a bit more for flow and for the experience of art, music, food, and culture together. Fortunately, we had amazing weather and a fantastic turnout. While we (probably) can’t guarantee the same weather, the format will be the same and we’ll continue to work hard to carry on the tradition (now in our 25th year!!). Over the last three years there has been some excellent evolution under the leadership of Elizabeth Barrekette and our amazing team of volunteers, and now Terri and I are working with the team to keep the bar raised high!