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Idea #5: One Building, Two Shuls

Many years ago, my dad, Lou Bloom, and I were talking about how wonderful it is that Boulder has such a warm feeling across the Jewish denominations. It is definitely the best part of the Boulder Jewish community. People may feel connected to more than one shul or community. They may even belong to more than one shul. Just look at the success of our wonderful Boulder Jewish Festival. And of course Haver, the Boulder Rabbinic Fellowship, has made our whole community so much stronger and more cohesive.

We have a close family friend in the Boston area. He belongs to a shul housed in a building with two Shabbat services weekly. One conservative and one orthodox with a mechitzah. What a fabulous idea, working with economies of scale.

How can it work?

  • There needs to be a big enough building where each shul can have its own service.
  • The main thing is the communal space. Between the separate areas is a large communal space for a shared kiddush each week.
  • People could go to either service depending on their spiritual/ritual/tradition need, yet they could still socialize with the larger Jewish community each week at the kiddush.

Prior to his death in 2003, my dad and I were in agreement that Aish Kodesh and Bonai Shalom (where my dad was a founder) would be a perfect fit for this combined effort.

There could be a huge savings on resources. Aish and Bonai have similar kashrut needs but if there were an issue, two separate kitchens could be created. We do have almost identical zero waste efforts.

If all the walls in the building were modular, then on the high holidays, the whole building could be used for Aish, as Bonai is too large to be in that building.

Maybe this dream will have to wait until the new Jewish Community Center is built. But, we are a lucky community that we can even consider such a convergence of shuls. In many communities, there is much animosity between conservative and orthodox.

A few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see Rabbi Goldfedder and family at Bonai for Shabbat morning services. I asked why we were honored with their presence. Rabbi Goldfedder said he was on vacation so decided to come to Bonai. The whole family stayed with Rabbi Marc Soloway from Bonai.

Our strength is that we have Bonai and Aish, two menschy communities with two menschy Rabbis.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more about “28 Days, 28 Ideas Local Edition,” click here. To read the original series, click on the “28 Days, 28 Ideas” link in the footer (the blue section at the bottom – scroll down, you’ll see it). To read more of the Local Edition, you can see the last few ideas in the sidebar widget – look on the right of your screen.

About Debbie Garelick

Debbie is a local Realtor, business woman, mom of two teens and wife of Robert (almost 25 years). She is a strong advocate for local environmental issues in the Jewish community. Also, she is an advocate for juvenile diabetes. Debbie has lived in Boulder since 1974 except for 6 years when she lived in Israel residing on Kibbutz Maagan Michael.

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3 comments

  1. Denver has a similar arrangement at BMH-BJ Congregation (one of the largest Jewish synagogues in Denver). The history of that shul is interesting and I probably only know a fraction of it. They are a merger of two shuls BMH and BJ. But even before the merger there were two services that jointly occurred — one with a machitzah and one with mixed seating. The concept has worked for decades.

  2. What a lovely article. It is so good to hear stories about people getting along. Such a pleasure to read a positive uplifting article.

  3. Thanks Debbie! It's so nice to be thought of. And while we did not make it to services it was amazing to see the fabulous kiddush that you and the women from the sisterhood created! May we and greater Boulder be blessed to grow together!