A WORD of warning: Don’t tell Rabbi Tzvi Steinberg that Denver’s West Side is a Jewish ghost town.
He’ll set you straight on that point, and quickly.
Earlier this year, after the rabbi had already agreed to take the pulpit of Denver’s Congregation Zera Abraham — the last functional synagogue standing on the West Side — he overheard a conversation between two other people.
One of those speaking, who knew that Rabbi Steinberg had previously run a Jewish hospice, laughed and said that a hospice rabbi would be the “perfect” person to serve as a West Side rabbi.
“It’s funny,” Rabbi Steinberg says with a grin. “I wasn’t supposed to hear it. But it’s entirely untrue. On the contrary, there’s a lot of development in many arenas.”
Since taking the job early this year — he commuted back and forth between Denver and Lakewood, NJ until the Passover season — his conviction has only intensified.
Intensity suits this rabbi quite well. Whip thin, fond of wry humor and colorful parables, he wears his commitment to and deep knowledge of Judaism naturally and comfortably, without a trace of self-righteousness or superiority.
Although he thinks carefully before answering every question, he cannot hide the energy and enthusiasm he brings to just about everything he’s engaged in – Judaism itself, the Torah, the Talmud, his past, his present, his congregation and the venerable neighborhood in which it is situated.