THIS Sunday marks the 15th annual Boulder Jewish Festival on Pearl Street near the courthouse.
The one-day event features all things Jewish including art, food, rabbis, kids activities, and music.
Oh, the music.
Sure, you can plan a stop at the festival for a lunch of knish, kasha, falafel and other kosher Jewish delicacies, but consider staying for the music.
True to tradition, this years festival will feature Los Lantzmun, a Denver-based band that plays high energy Jewish world beat music. Theyve rocked the Boulder Jewish Festival at least eight times.
Hal Aqua, the bands leader and founder, describes the music this way:
Were interested in klezmer but were not a klezmer band. Were interested in Spanish music, but were not a salsa band. Were interested in Jewish influenced reggae, but were not a reggae band. Its a fusion of all of these.
Aqua turned his back on Judaism shortly after his Bar Mitzvah only to rediscover it through marriage and music. I started listening to world music that had Jewish roots to it and I was amazed to find that I had these roots, too.
11 Boulder Jewish Day School Choir
12 Los Lantzmun
1 Sababa (Jewish rock trio)
4 Har Hashem House Band
Holli Berman has interwoven music and Judaism for many years. Shes been the cantorial soloist at Har Hashem since 1997 and involved in Jewish liturgical music for much longer.
Her musical contributions to the festival date back to its inception.
Ive personally been there every single year since the festival started, she says, including the year she was released from the hospital amid cancer treatment.
It was so special to be able to step out of the hospital and see the community and feel the support and love. Now, the Jewish festival marks every year a celebration of recovery for me.
Originally Berman performed as part of a group called Lynn, which was comprised of three women.
A few years ago, they expanded into the Har Hashem House Band: three singers for three-part harmony, someone who plays acoustic guitar and keyboard, someone who plays electric guitar and mandolin, someone who plays the electric base, and someone on a drum kit.
So seven people in all.
The House Band features a folk rock sound wrapped around prayers and Jewish songs, but youll also hear them perform secular music from the Indigo Girls, Tom Petty, Crosby Stills and Nash, the Dixie Chicks and Fleetwood Mac.
WHILE the House Band gets a lot of play time at the synagogue during services, its not performance, its prayer. Performing at the festival is completely fun. You see people from all parts of the community so its a cross-community experience.
Youre putting your music out there on the mall so non-Jews are hearing it, too, so it is performance and exciting, says Aqua. First of all, theres the Jewish connection, so I know a lot of people out there dancing, milling around. You know, members of the tribe.
On the other hand, its open to everybody out on the mall and totally public and its such a friendly vibe.
Theres something were putting across about our culture that is very positive and outward looking and not focused on ourselves.
In addition to prior favorites, the Boulder Jewish Festival will feature a new group this year that hails from the East Coast.
Eden is a collection of friends who grew up on the same block playing music together. They formed the band about six years ago.
Dave Ben-Yshay, the bands bass player and lead vocalist, says his group is looking forward to making its Western US debut at the Boulder Jewish Festival.
Were always looking for opportunities to get our music out there. We mostly play on the East coast-college campuses, JCCs, community events and a festival we did twice in upstate New York called Yidstock of Jewish Rock.
Ben-Yshay describes the groups music as spiritual and about religion as a part of life. Its not just a small portion, its life in general. We live our lives that way.
The group is heavily influenced by alternative rock bands of the 1990s.
We grew up listening to Third Eye Blind, the Wall Flowers, Gin Blossoms, and other contemporary rock bands. And we also listened to Jewish rock music, Ben-Yshay explains.
Rock music is a tool with which we use to express how we feel about everything.
You can dance your way through the Boulder Jewish Festival this Sunday, June 7, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.