Intermountain Jewish News

Nov 25th

Aspen Jewish center opens to great fanfare

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Rabbi Mendel Mintz speaking at the grand openingBE prepared to be flabbergasted.

Not because the new synagogue in Aspen is — hands down — the nicest in the region.

Not because this is the most successful, completed capital campaign in Colorado Jewish history.

Not because you no longer need to choose between a synagogue and nature in order to pray at your best.

Not because the dream was compromised: the “synagogue” is much more than a synagogue.

It’s a community center.

A banquet hall.

A mikveh.

A home away from home.

Not to mention, an art gallery.

A retreat center.

A conference center.

A business center.

A kids gym.

Library and classrooms.

Not, not because of all this may we say that nothing of the dream was compromised.

But this: the people.

The “human capital.”

THE grand opening of the long awaited Aspen JCC last Aug. 7 was not just an event for Jews in Aspen.

Or for Jews who visit Aspen.

It was an event for Aspen.

For the city.

Its citizens.

Jewish and non-Jewish.

Aspen, not just the Jewish community of Aspen, was beautified, lifted to a new plane, added onto, by this center.

Which is why citizens of Aspen, Jewish and non-Jewish, flowed into the grand opening.

And spoke at it.

Gloried in it.

If a new museum adds to all of Aspen, not just to its art lovers, likewise a Jewish center. It adds to all of Aspen.

The “human capital” here was a beautiful coming together of the city.

That’s just one part.

BE prepared to be flabbergasted . . .

This Jewish community center has the widest reach of any such center in the US.

Its grand opening, Aug. 7, was for Chabad-affiliated Jews.

Equally, for Jews from around the country.

For Jews who otherwise pray in the Reform temple in Brookline, Massachusetts or who do not pray at all.

At the grand opening, alongside the Jews from the Roaring Fork Valley were Jews from Denver and Newport Beach, California, and Austin, Texas, and points too numerous to tally.

The new Aspen “Jewish Community Center” is Jewish in its mission; community in its reach; and a center in its design.

Walk in, you’re not greeted by a synagogue foyer.

You’re greeted by a fireplace.

This new center is an extension of home.

A home away from home.

That’s why it took 10 years of planning, designing, redesigning, funding, zoning — and dreaming.

It is a complex entity.

Yet beautiful in its simplicity and unity — the way its diverse parts flow into each other.

And flow outside to the gorgeous mountains of Aspen.

Stand in this center, on the second floor, in the synagogue — so brilliantly and simply designed that the light from the sky and the view of the mountains are contiguous with you via huge windows and huge skylights.

They create a prayer setting unlike any other.

They take you outside into nature, even as you’re inside the synagogue.

Instead of gazing at walls, you can gaze at the mountains.

“I lift up mine eyes to the mountains,” says the Psalmist.

Recite that psalm inside the synagogue section of the new Aspen JCC, and see the mountains outside.

Inside and outside join.


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