Beit Uriel: The Denver Israeli Synagogue is holding a three-day remembrance of Rabbi Uriel Malka, for whom the shul is named, over the Shabbat Chanukah weekend.
Rabbi Malka, a former teacher at DAT, died Dec. 4, 2010, in Israel during the Carmel wildfire when the bus he was riding to save Palestinian lives was overtaken by flames.
Even after leaving Denver he would return to the city each year to lead a Sephardic High Holiday service for the Israeli population in the city.
Beit Uriel, which now serves both Israeli and American Jews of several traditional backgrounds, was named in Rabbi Malka’s honor last year.
The memorial weekend will start with mincha at 4:20 p.m. and kabbalat Shabbat at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29.
On Shabbat, Saturday, Nov. 30, morning services start at 9 a.m., followed by a kiddush with a d’var Torah in memory of Rabbi Malka delivered by DAT Head of School Rabbi Daniel Alter. Shabbat Chanukah concludes with mincha at 4:20 p.m. and Maariv at 5 p.m.
On Sunday a memorial service combined with Chanukah celebration — “as we believe Rabbi Malka would have wanted it,” says Beit Uriel founder A. B. Aharonian —begins at 4:30 p.m. with mincha, followed by Maariv at 5 p.m., and the lighting of the fifth Chanukah candle at 5:30 p.m.
Then it will be time forsufganiyot, drinks and dreidels. The night continues with a memorial video commemorating Rabbi Malka’s life at 6 p.m. and a dvar Torah by Bais Menachem’s Rabbi Yisroel Engel at 6:30 p.m.
Those who knew Rabbi Malka will also be invited to share their memories.
Rabbi Malka’s story is told both on the memorial website (http://uriel-malka.com/) set up by the worldwide community he touched, and in news stories about the tragic event in which he lost his life (including the Rockower Award-winning Dec. 10, 2010 IJN), and in eulogies. The IJN eulogy can be found at http://www.ijn.com/editorial/2084-rabbi-uriel-malka-of-blessed-memory).
Rabbi Malka was an officer and rabbi in the IDF, served in a paratroopers commando unit, taught in Canada and the US and was studying to be an Israel Prison Service (IPS) rabbi.
During the Second Lebanon War, he engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Hezbollah terrorists.
He was on his way to try to save the lives of prisoners in an Israeli jail threatened by the Carmel fire when the bus was burned, killing Rabbi Malka and 35 others. His last words, sent in a text message, were “I am on my way to rescue Jews.” Rabbi Malka, 32, is survived by his wife Ortel and five children.
The memorial weekend will take place at 295 S. Locust St., where Beit Uriel is hosted by the Western Center for Russian Jewry and Chabad Rabbi Aharon Sirota.