Jewish tradition teaches that no matter how dark it gets we must strive to bring light. No holiday celebrates this concept more brightly than Chanukah, which requires lighting one more candle each night until we have filled the eight-branched menorah or chanukia and brought light to the darkness.
Every year, hundreds of people brave the always-variable weather to stand together on the Pearl Street Mall and watch the lighting of Boulder County’s Biggest Menorah.
For many families, this is an annual event and the true start of the holiday.
Each year the Boulder County Center for Judaism selects a member of the Boulder Jewish community to receive the special honor of lighting the giant community menorah. The mitzvah is reserved for people who have been especially generous with their time and energy and made a lasting mark on the community. This year’s Lamplighters are Josh and Bonni Raderman, who have been lighting things up Jewishly in Boulder for many years. Their consistent efforts have added immeasurably to the Boulder Jewish community’s constellation, and the Boulder County Center for Judaism is proud to honor them in this way.
Chany Scheiner, co-director of the Boulder County Center for Judaism, said, “Josh and Bonni are an amazing duo. They are genuine, amazing people, who are dynamic in an understated way and always look to serve the Jewish community and create a Jewish imprint. No, is not in their lexicon, and they create magic wherever they go.” To that, Bonni says simply, “It is an honor to be able to serve our community in the ways we do.”
When asked for his thoughts on the Radermans, longtime Boulder resident Rick Ackerman said, “These guys volunteer enthusiastically for jobs that few others want, including working the grill at the annual Jewish Festival on days in June that are often scorchers. They are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and do hard, sometimes dirty work, whenever they are called upon. They are exceptionally kind and caring toward all, and they are great fun to be around.” He added, “Josh does so many things well, and has such diverse interests and talents, that he could properly be described as a Renaissance man – no, make that a Renaissance mensch.”
Bonni has been the Associate Director of Development for Jewish Family Services for the past year-and-a-half and Josh is an entrepreneurial chef. Chany credits them with helping to make the Chanukah on Pearl event into the vibrant and exciting annual event it is today and notes that “everyone looks forward to Josh’s signature latkes, which run out quickly every year.”
Rabbi Pesach Scheiner, co-director of the Boulder County Center for Judaism, calls Josh “a Jewish leader with a profound passion for Judaism and Jewish teachings, which he transmits to everyone he meets.”
In addition to the lighting of the menorah, there is always live entertainment. Half of this year’s entertainment came all the way from Israel. Eliyahu Natmatiyof will lead the sing-along and perform a variety of fabulous songs and Noah, who is a Boulderite, will demonstrate some truly amazing street dancing. There will also be sufganiot (traditional jelly doughnuts), coffee and hot cocoa, and special Chanukah gifts for the first 200 families.
No reservations are necessary for this fun, family-friendly event. Just show up on the Pearl Street Mall in front of the courthouse around 5:15 on Monday evening, December 3rd, and join the festivities surrounding the lighting of Boulder County’s largest community menorah.
Each year’s Lamplighters are asked the same four questions. Here are Josh and Bonni’s responses.
What brought you to Boulder County?
What brought both Bonni and me to Boulder was its natural beauty, social liberalism, spiritual resources, an active business community, as well as general open-mindedness.
Between your paid and volunteer work, you have touched so many organizations, do you have a favorite memory?
Josh: My favorite memory happened during a holiday event at the Boulder Center for Judaism. A group of criminals blazed into the driveway, jumped out of their car, and ran. A chaotic police chase ensued. At first, we weren’t sure if we were under attack or not, but Rabbi Pesach kept very calm and continued the service with focus and meaning. By the time the police left and we realized we had not been in any real danger, the relief made the service even more special. Although it was a bit traumatic, it gave me a great appreciation of the meaning of being able to practice our faith without the fear of persecution.
Bonni: Whether it be my paid or volunteer work, what sticks in my mind are the smiles, hugs, laughter, and community connection that is created by simply doing small actions every day to better your community and the world. There is nothing more powerful than bringing the community together, so I feel eternally grateful that Josh and I share the same core beliefs about service. When we take on volunteer tasks together, we complement each other’s’ skill sets, and that makes for a deeper, more meaningful experience.
What is your favorite Chanukah memory?
Josh: My favorite Chanukah memory is my grandmother softly singing the blessing on her father’s old, and slightly bent, menorah, which had been brought over from Poland when he immigrated to the US. The rest of the world would fade away and the glow of the candles would give me great peace. The peace and pleasure came not only from knowing that treats were soon to come, but that I was participating in something much older and greater than I could perceive. The idea that miracles are always occurring and could occur at any time became part of my view of the world. And I was thrilled when my father graciously bestowed that menorah on me last year. I look forward to it lighting up the Festival of Lights for my family for generations to come.
Bonni: My favorite memory of Chanukah was watching our daughter’s eyes light up the first time we lit the candles and she was physically and emotionally aware of how special that night was.
What is your vision for Jewish Boulder?
Our vision for the Jewish Community in Boulder is that every Jew should feel proud to be Jewish, and love every Jew in the community like they are your family. We hope to see more institutions of Jewish learning established for children and adults alike. And we hope that every member of the community tries to do good deeds and create a balanced, love-filled existence.