The Jewish community threw a party on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall on Sunday, celebrating the culture with music, food and art at the 25th annual Boulder Jewish Festival.
“These are my people,” said Black Hawk’s Rhonda Horowitz-Romano, who is a member of Boulder’s Bonai Shalom and a festival regular. “It’s a family.”
To celebrate its 25 years, the festival honored the 90-plus volunteers and six chairwomen and chairmen who have kept it going.
Cheryl Fellows, executive director of Boulder Jewish News, organized the festival from 1999 until 2015, making her the longest running chairwoman.
“I’m thrilled that, over 25 years, this event still happens,” she said, noting it appears to be the longest running annual Jewish festival in the country. “It’s a great testament to the volunteers and community organizations and community members who support it every year. We love being on Pearl Street Mall. We really meet a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have known about it.”
This year, Adam Sloat and Terri Miro produced the festival, continuing the tradition of upbeat tunes and tasty food with a Jewish twist.
Multiple bands and singer-songwriters played throughout the day, with the two festival headliners — San Francisco-based Lior Ben-Hur and his band Sol Tevél and musician Matthew Banks — performing twice.
For festival regular Schuyler Jacobs, who recently graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder, the festival means hanging out with friends and devouring knishes.
“It’s a nice way to immerse yourself in the Jewish population,” he said. “You can always find like minded people.”
Food vendors included Denver’s Rosenberg’s Bagels & Delicatessen, serving up bagels, sandwiches and pastries, and Boulder’s River and Woods, offering wood-oven pita pizza, baba ghanouj mezza plates and organic cotton candy.
“You don’t have to be Jewish to like a good bagel,” said Boulder’s Doris Lederman, who came to the festival for the first time Sunday.
As a recent New York transplant, she said, she was glad to find a venue to help her connect with the smaller local Jewish community.
“I like meeting my fellow Jews,” she said.
Along with music and food, the event showcases Jewish arts and organizations. Festival goers could talk religion with area rabbis, politics with groups involved with Israel or history and culture with non-profits like the Boulder Jewish Community Center.
Nikhil Mankekar, chairman of Boulder’s Human Relations Commission, said he’s attended the festival since he was a boy and now helps fund it through the Human Relations Commission.
“This is a really special festival that has grown into a destination event,” he said. “It’s the kind of welcoming celebration we want to see in Boulder.”
The festival is known for its diversity, bringing together those who are liberal, orthodox or aren’t part of a synagogue.
Boulder’s Jenn Ross described her family as “high holiday Jews.” She said she loves the festival’s familiar music and food, giving her a connection to her heritage.
“We want to reconnect with everybody and support our community,” she said.