Kehilath Aish Kodesh, founded 14 years ago in Boulder to spark the “holy fire” of Orthodox Judaism, is seriously considering shutting the doors.
A Jan. 10 email sent to congregants and others, including the IJN, prepared recipients for sad news in the subject line: “Farewell Dear Aish.”
“While people love Aish Kodesh and want an Orthodox synagogue, no one is able to take on the financial or logistic responsibilities” needed to maintain the congregation at this time, the missive stated.
The names of President Elan Bar-Evan, Chazzan Lev Ettelson and board members Shari Kark, Avraham Kornfeld and Ovadia Jones were affixed at the end of the two-page email.
The email sounds dire. However, the situation may result in a reorganization of the shul rather than permanent closure.
Apparently, some members of the congregation have experienced feelings of “hurt and separation” during ongoing meetings about Aish Kodesh’s future.
Although no one would comment to the IJN, the unspecified problems allegedly reared their divisive heads before the Boulder flood in September, 2013, when the community appeared tighter than ever.
Aish managed to hold High Holiday observances despite noticeable water damage. Then, on Sept. 22, the shul threw a 70th birthday party for Yehudis Fishman that was attended by all segments of Boulder Jewry.
“There is an offer on the table to interview all present and past members of Aish to see what they want and need,” the email read, “but these actions are separate from the financial and logistical support needed to run the synagogue on a day-to-day basis.”
Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder left Aish in July, 2013, to become senior Jewish educator at MIT’s Hillel. Whether the current issues stem from replacing him is unclear.
“The next steps will involve the dissolution of Aish Kodesh in its current form,” the email continues. “Since no one was able to offer an alternative solution toward supporting Aish Kodesh (that they were willing to back up with ownership of that solution), the board will meet and decide how to proceed.”
Three options — and anecdotal information suggests the context of these emails change every day — were outlined in the Jan. 10 email.
• “We could effectively ‘hibernate’ Aish Kodesh, meaning we could zero out all financial debts and cancel all future financial liabilities.” Assets such as the Sefer Torah, siddurim, kitchen items, chairs, etc., would be stored until a later date. “If an organic movement develops that wants to revive Aish Kodesh,” the above items would be available to the shul.
“This would require input from the community to purchase plastic bins to keep the books safe, pack up the items (or pay someone to pick them up), find or pay for storage, move or pay to move the items, etc.”
• “There is a possibility of partnering with another congregation, much like the BMH-BJ model. This would effectively house two congregations under one roof, with shared resources such as administration and education.
“There would obviously be details to work out to make this happen, but it could be a very viable option for both entities that would offer an enhanced experience for many families.”
To clarify, BMH and Beth Joseph merged in 1996 as one congregation. They do not operate as two congregations under one roof.
• The final alternative would be to “simply close Aish Kodesh, liquidate the assets and terminate the legal entity.”
The board said in the email that it would be meeting “in the next few days to navigate this transition,” but no developments have been made available to the public.
The local buzz in Boulder intimates that this period of “reorganization” should be resolved by Passover.
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