Saturday, April 20, 2019 -
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Community Profile: Har Shalom, Durango

Har ShalomBy Ben Gilliland

Congregation Har Shalom has been serving the Jewish community in Durango and the surrounding area since the early 1970s.

Har Shalom is led by Rabbi Eliot Baskin and President Linda Fitts-Liberman.

The 100 member congregation is in the process of affiliating with the Reform movement. It meets at its newly built synagogue in north Durango for weekly and High Holiday services.

Located in the Four Corners region, Har Shalom can have many people from Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico for its High Holiday services.

The congregation also has a big outreach to Fort Lewis College in Durango.

On Rosh Hashanah everyone is invited to a complimentary lunch, and on the second day the congregation goes on a hike.

Rabbi Baskin describes the congregation as, “Mountain Jews trying to create dynamic Judaism that takes place in the outdoors.”

In the summer, the congregation tries to reach out to the diverse membership with activities such as a “Sand Bar Mitzvah.” The congregation goes rafting on the Animas River, has a potluck and then the rabbi talks about the importance of rivers in Jewish history.

In the winter the congregation will go skiing at Durango Mountain resort after services, to be followed by a Havdalah in the hot springs.

Har Shalom also offers a religious school with classes for kindergarteners all the way through Bar Mitzvahs. All the class sizes are small, and taught by parents in the community. Marla Stills is the director of education.

Under “vision quest,” kids who are approved for Bar and Bat Mitzvah will go hiking with their parents and reflect on the journey they are about to undertake.

The synagogue also offers adult education.

“We are a very warm and welcoming congregation. There is a lot of intimacy among us, making us more like an extended family than a congregation,” says Rabbi Baskin.


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