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Boulder Jewish Festival Infuses Jewish Values in Everything It Does

The Boulder Jewish Festival brings Jewish arts and culture to the greater Boulder community. The Festival has been held for the past 24 consecutive years making it one of the longest running Jewish cultural events in the US.

“It is a big responsibility creating an event that represents Jewish culture especially since the Jewish experience is even more diverse than even the Jewish community as a whole,” says Jodi Zicklin, one of the Festival organizers. “We really strive to provide a diverse range of organizations, activities, and features that represent significant aspects of the Jewish experience.”

According to the Festival Director, Elizabeth Barrekette:

“Getting Jewish organizations, music, food and art is comparatively easy since we have a great team of volunteers spearheading these aspects of the Festival. What’s more challenging is finding ways to represent Jewish values as they are core to what being ‘Jewish’ is. While the Boulder Jewish Festival is not religious per se, it does connect people across all aspects of Judaism.”

This year the Festival is bringing four Jewish values to the forefront:

  • Family
  • Education
  • Tikkun Olam – Literally “repairing the world” or more figuratively, making the world a better place.
  • The prohibition of Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim – the suffering of animals

Though every year there has been a strong family component, this year the Boulder Jewish Festival is upping the ante. There have always been children’ activities such as the Kids’ Zone run by the Boulder JCC’s Cherryvale Day Camp. Now the family space has been increased to include more activities on 14th street, a Family Fun Run, and the addition of picnic tables on 14th Street so parents have a dedicated space to eat meals as a family.

On the education side, a few years ago the Festival added the Rabbi’s Living Room where a variety of the community’s spiritual leaders rotate to be available for any and all questions or discussions visitors may have. No appointment necessary! At the Rabbi’s Living Room, equipped with couches and a coffee table, you can just wander up and engage at any level.

In addition, the Festival has added a bit of learning via the subject of Biblical Grains. As ancient grains have been growing in popularity, this year the Noble Grain Alliance will be hosting an experience in learning about and tasting some of these ancient grains that are specifically referenced in the Old Testament.

Upping the ante has also been planned for Tikkun Olam. In addition to talking about the values of doing good deeds (Mitzvot) and repairing the world, this year there will be opportunities to partake in these activities. Hadassah will be hosting a Tikkun Olam activity where visitors can join in the making of no-sew fleece blankets to be donated to the children at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. In addition, the Boulder Jewish Teen Initiative will be hosting the Mitzvah Tent as a venue for some of our inspiring community Teens to share the service work they have been doing for the betterment of individuals and communities in need.

Perhaps one of the most exciting new developments this year is taking the ethical treatment of animals seriously. The prohibition against unnecessary cruelty — tza’ar ba’alei chayim: the suffering of animals – can be found in Talmudic learning. This balance between simultaneously permitting the use of animals for human need and prohibiting unnecessary cruelty to animals becomes the overarching principle of Jewish law regarding the treatment of animals. Caring for farm animals goes beyond prohibiting antibiotics and added hormones. It also takes into account the comfort, physical safety and health of the animals.

With the help of Hazon and Grow and Behold, the Jewish Festival is actively working to provide higher-welfare ingredients at the food vendors. Amanda Glucklich, Festival volunteer in charge of food says, “We are very proud to put a number of Jewish values in the practice of planning this event, in being good stewards of the earth, sourcing as many higher welfare animal products as we can, and truly embodying the meaning of kosher as ‘fit to eat’.” The food available for purchase at this year’s food festival is:

  • LB Kosher Grill will provide all their hot dogs and burgers from Higher-welfare providers
  • Latke Love will be using humanely sourced eggs in all their latke preparation
  • Woodgrain Bagels will be using higher welfare meat in their sandwiches
  • Falafel King will have ethically sourced meat in their shwarma (middle Eastern grill) sandwiches

With all of these new additions and the same great community feel,  this year’s Boulder Jewish Festival is not one to miss. The Festival takes place on June 3rd from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. It is free and open to the public located on Pearl Street between 13th and 14th street. For more information about the Boulder Jewish Festival, visit www.boulderjewishfestival.org.

About Michael Rosenzweig

Michael Rosenzweig is the Marketing Director at the Boulder JCC. He has been working at the J since 2011 and has held many roles, including Day Camp Director, Flatiron Tribe (young adult) Director, and Community Concierge. You can contact Michael at: michael@boulderjcc.org

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