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Meet Colorado Springs’ diverse Jewish clergy

In some ways, the city of Colorado Springs is a small town. Traffic is not heavy, neighbors in various areas know each other, and you can meet people you know as you walk the downtown streets. When it comes to Jewish worship, however, Colorado Springs has more than its share of rabbis to choose from. Let’s meet some of them.

L-r: Rabbi Moshe Liberow, Rabbi Iah Pillsbury, Cpt. Saul Rappeport

Rabbi Jay Sherwood, spiritual leader of Temple Shalom, moved here in 2017 from southern California, where he had lived most of his life.

He attended UCLA for his undergraduate degree in Jewish Studies and earned rabbinical ordination at the non-demoninational Academy for Jewish Religion in California. He holds an MA in religious education degree from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York.

Rabbi Sherwood came to Colorado Springs as a result of vacations spent here. He and wife Lisa decided that a change was needed. They had always liked the town, and Lisa’s best friend lived here.

Temple Shalom’s congregation is a merged Reform-Conservative congregation and includes most affiliated Jews.

In Colorado Springs, which Rabbi Sherwood states is “one of the fastest growing cities in the US,” he wants to continue to build the Jewish community.

He wants to grow Jewish life as the city grows and provide Jewish educational opportunities for adults and children.

He also wants to encourage more people to come for Jewish observances.

Sherwood says, “I want Temple Shalom to be a bet knesset, a bet tefillah and a bet midrash, as people relate to Judaism in different ways.”

Rabbi Iah Pillsbury has been a part of the Colorado Springs Jewish community since 2018. She is the rabbi at Temple BeIt Torah, a Reform congregation. She fell in love with the community, the town and the mountains.

Rabbi Pillsbury grew up in Southern California. She graduated from the University of Chicago with an undergraduate degree in English and went on to be ordained through HUC-JIR in Cincinnati.

She says her congregation is “diverse and growing.”

 She wants to continue to work to build the Jewish community of Colorado Springs by “helping our community grow in learning, in mutual support, and in love for Judaism.” She would love Colorado Springs to have its own JCC and JFS.

Captain Saul Rappeport is the chaplain at the US Air Force Academy. Born in Australia, he moved to Israel at age 12, and to the US when he was 23.

His rabbinical career began in the civilian world; he became a chaplain in the military as a “calling within a calling.”

Rabbi Rappeport’s congregation includes cadets, Jewish personnel on the USAFA campus, and those of all faiths in the military.

Capt. Rappeport says he has a “unique focus” on religion in the Air Force. He deals with more than prayer. He wants to build a “little Jewish oasis” in the military where “everyone knows your name.”

L-r: Rabbi Jay Sherwood, Boaz Vituk

Rabbi Moshe Liberow, also Australian born, is the Chabad representative in Colorado Springs, having lived here for more than 20 years.

Rabbi Liberow leads Shabbat services weekly and runs a Torah study during the week.

He is charge of the outreach program to smaller towns in Southern Colorado as well, He sends yeshiva students to find and welcome Jews to Judaism in outlying areas that do not have a permanent Chabad presence.

Rabbi Liberow’s goal in Colorado Springs is to “light a Jewish spark” in places where it is needed.

Rabbi Boaz Vituk (known simply as “Rabbi Boaz”) grew up in Israel and emigrated to the US at the age of 20. He studied at a Lubavitcher yeshiva in New York and was ordained there. He went into the US Army as a chaplain. His last placement was at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs.

The Chabad movement saw potential Jewish growth in Colorado Springs, and Rabbi Boaz says he was chosen to start a second Chabad center here, called the Chabad Jewish Community of Colorado Springs.

Rabbi Boaz says his congregation serves soldiers, civilians, Israelis, Americans, single people, families, young and old.

His attendees run the gauntlet from “atheist Jews” to the more observant.

He also gives classes for the “righteous gentiles” who are interested in performing mitzvahs.

Rabbi Boaz holds Shabbat services each week, including a five-course Shabbat dinner every Friday night for about 40 people, and provides a venue for Jewish life and lifecycle events.

In Colorado Springs, Rabbi Boaz wants to be “an emissary to other people, especially other nations of the world.”

For a town of its size, Colorado Springs can boast a plethora of rabbinical clergy. No matter your background, denomination, philosophy or affiliation, there is a Jewish experience here for you.

Copyright © 2020 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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