PASSOVER 5774 EDITION
SECTION A PAGE 10
IT is among the most apt and poetic of synagogue names.
Beth Evergreen conjures images of the pleasant foothills village southwest of Denver, and of the beautiful trees — pines, spruces, firs and many others — which surround it in lush abundance.
The word “evergreen” can also mean, according to one dictionary, “remaining fresh,” like those trees which never lose their leaves or needles, regardless of weather or season.
And Beth Evergreen, which last month celebrated the 40th anniversary of its existence, has indeed remained fresh.
A gathering that first came together in 1974 as a handful of Jewish residents of Evergreen and surrounding areas — really more of an casual chavurah than a congregation, not even a minyan — Beth Evergreen in 2014 can contrast that humble beginning with an auspicious present:
- The eight founders of 40 years ago have become the 200-some members of today;
- The group that once met in participants’ living rooms — eventually ascending to resort meeting rooms and theaters — now has an attractive, distinctly alpine-style, synagogue building with a panoramic view so inspiring it can be considered a spiritual asset;
- Beth Evergreen’s founders once struggled to educate themselves and each other to the degree that they could function as an actual synagogue; now, Beth Evergreen’s religious school and youth and adult education programs are growing steadily, providing wide-ranging instruction for every age group from kindergarten through retirement;
- A group of people who functioned for decades without a rabbi or formal identification with any Jewish movement now has a fulltime spiritual leader, and has decided that its progressive and broadminded values are well reflected in the Reconstructionist movement, with which it is now affiliated.
Overall, the signs indicate a synagogue that has achieved a level of stability that many small congregations might envy. It not only has a building, a rabbi and an affiliation, but a steadily growing and energetic membership.
Beth Evergreen seems to be living up to its verdant name very well indeed.
Joanne Greenberg was there at the inception.
“I was one of the eight,” she says of the first group of Jews in the Evergreen area who, in the early 1970s, came up with the idea of starting a congregation.
“Most of them are gone,” she says of the other founders, one of whom — Steve Bloom, is not gone and who, in fact, led the congregation in singing “Turn, Turn, Turn” at Beth Evergreen’s anniversary celebration on March 8.
Another member of the eight — Bernie Goldman, who passed away last autumn — was the true founder, Greenberg says.
“He was the first,” Greenberg says of Goldman.