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Boulder program unites around visionaries and rebels

David ShneerA Boulder-wide, year-long series of Jewish programming will begin this fall.

“Movers” is the brainchild of the Boulder JCC’s Menorah Program Director Kathryn Bernheimer and CU Jewish Studies Director. 

“Movers” stands for Jewish Mavericks, Visionaries and Rebels (MVRs). “It’s the idea of Jews as agents of social change,” explained Bernheimer.

Programs will feature trailblazers like Einstein and Freud, Jews in politics and Jews as social change agents. The goal is to create a Jewish University in the Boulder community.

“It would look like a bunch of programs from Jewish historical to contemporary figures,” said Bernheimer. The programs would be offered all around town in different venues and at the end of the year, whoever attended the programs would have a deeper understanding of Jewish impact on the selected theme.

The idea for a year-long series came about almost serendipitously. First, Bernheimer and Shneer had done something similar a couple years ago,  selecting a theme of Jews in comedy and offering programs through DU and Menorah.

It was successful enough that they decided to do it again with a different theme and with the hope of getting more Boulder Jewish organizations involved. A quick look around and Bernheimer realized they were on to something.

Soul Food wanted to do a program on Jewish anarchy. Rabbi Marc Soloway at Bonai Shalom wanted to do a class on Heschel [the Warsaw-born American theologian].

“It all started coming together,” said Bernheimer.

Menorah would show films about the likes of Emma Goldman, Alan Ginsberg and Harvey Milk; CU would bring in speakers and enlist Jewish studies professors to create lectures on such topics as Jewish athletes, feminism, Hadassah and Zionism.

Before too long, the ADL, Hillel, Allied Jewish Federation, Har Hashem, Aish Kodesh, Hadassah and Bonai Shalom were all on board.

“It’s the first time in Boulder history that all programming agencies for adult education are collaborating on a year long themed series,” Bernheimer said.

It’s also the first time an effort was made to organize discussions on programming within the community well in advance of putting them on individually.

By getting the groups to talk and plan programs in advance, and connecting some of those programs to the year-long themed event,  makes it easier to promote them.

It’s also beneficial, Bernheimer says, in terms of scheduling.

“That way, we aren’t competing for the same audience on the same day or in the same week.”

Movers kicks off on Oct. 22 with a teach-in styled program at CU entitled “Smashing the Idols.”

It starts with the story of Abraham and will extend into a larger discussion on why radicalism — and by extension innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs, mavericks, visionaries, rebels and agents of change — are part of Jewish culture.

Details on the 2009-2010 Jewish University programming will be available in early September. And before the fall is over, Bernheimer says they’ll select another theme for the following year.

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