During certain times of the year, shoppers at King Soopers in Greenwood Village are likely to encounter young men dressed in bright green tee-shirts somewhere i n the produce department. While examining their tomatoes or thumping their melons, shoppers may find themselves in a cordial conversation with these friendly men about an upcoming Jewish holiday, or about the abundance of kosher items at the grocery store.
And yes, these hip guys are rabbis, too. Rabbis of JOI — the Jewish Outreach Initiative. This is an arm of Aish Denver that takes Judaism outside the walls of that southeast outreach synagogue into places where unaffiliated and unengaged Jews may be.
JOI is the brainchild of Rabbi Yaakov Meyer. In 2011, he unveiled his vision to concentrate on Aish Denver’s mission as an outreach organization.
His plan, modeled after an outreach kollel in Atlanta, was to bring young rabbis and their wives to southeast Denver, where they would integrate themselves into the community and serve as friendly resources for those wishing to learn more about Judaism and Jewish life.
With the support of his board and membership, Rabbi Meyer conducted a search for the right young families to carry out his goal. Through his association with Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem, the parent organization of Aish Denver, and other networking methods, Rabbi Meyer located three American couples learning and living in Israel who fit the bill.
Much of the interviewing was done via Skype teleconferencing.
On Rosh Hashanah, 2011, Rabbi Meyer introduced the JOI rabbis to his congregation: Rabbi Menachem Lehrfield, originally of Miami, Rabbi Menachem Tenenbaum, from Baltimore, and Rabbi Boruch Zuckerman, from Queens, NY.