By Ben Gilliland
The Aspen Jewish Congregation has been providing Jewish services to the city of Aspen and the surrounding community for 35 years.
Gideon Kaufman founded the synagogue and headed the congregation until last year, when it hired its first full time rabbi, Rabbi Laurie Green.
Kaufman has now stepped aside and is the congregations lay rabbi.
Helping Rabbi Green and Rabbi Kaufman lead the services is Cantor Rita Shore, who joined the congregation in 2005. The congregations board of directors is led by President Mark Rothman. Together these four people lead the 200 members of the Aspen Jewish Congregation.
The congregation is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism (UJR) and meets at the Aspen Chapel for both weekly Shabbat services and regular High Holiday services.
Since the congregation enjoys significant participation from the greater second homeowner and tourist communities, it has many Denver members as well as members from all over the country. The High Holiday services are attended by over 500 people, while Friday night services (during both ski season and summer) can attract 100 worshippers.
The congregation has Tot Shabbat, which is a service specially designed for little kids, and a family service for both parents and kids. The congregation also has an annual Sukkot dinner.
Community activities include a Passover Palooza arts and crafts, storytellers and scavenger hunts for the kids. Aspen Jewish Congregation also hosts several community wide festivals, like the one celebrating Israels Independence Day each year.
Aspen Jewish Congregation also offers a religious school. Rabbi Green is the director of education.
The congregation has classes for early childhood all the way through confirmation classes for high school students, and a youth group that combines with the other Jewish teens in the community.
It also offers adult and family education classes.
As our congregation continues to grow and expand we hope to experiment with new activities and add new programs, says Rabbi Green.