Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

Rabbi Goldfeder to Leave Aish for MIT

Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder
Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

An open letter to the Boulder Jewish Community: 

As you may have heard, I have accepted a position at MIT Hillel serving as Senior Jewish Educator.

It was not a simple decision, primarily because of the many people that we love here in Boulder. Through our ten years here, my life and the lives of my wife and children have been enriched through learning, praying, feasting, celebrating and building with the wonderful and unique Boulder Jewish community. What a first job this has been!

We’ve had the honor of meeting so many people. Some have come through our community for a short while, gotten inspired, and moved to Israel or Denver. Others have been with us the whole time, building alongside us. Some come to classes, some to daven, others to our unique Purim parties or annual dinners. If we had a reunion of everyone who set foot at an Aish Kodesh event, we could sure have a lively mechitza dance party.

Ketriellah and I believe in the Aish Kodesh community, because we have seen it grow. When we got here ten years ago, the shul was in our living room. My kids got to witness our morning minyans from their breakfast table. Now Aish resides in a beautiful property nestled in what promises to be the new heart of Jewish Boulder. We have a wonderful executive director, a very capable board, and a wide array of members and donors from across the spectrum of Jewish Boulder.

Morah Yehudis Fishman took Aish Kodesh from Point A to point B. We have had the honor of guiding Aish Kodesh to Point C. And now it is time for someone else to guide this community to the next stage.

One of the most important lessons we have learned over the years is that a rabbi and rebbitzen, even with a capable staff, devoted board and willing contributors, cannot do it alone. It really takes a village. Aish’s successful future requires that all of Jewish Boulder, from the JCC to Har HaShem to Chabad, recognize the value of diversity. Communities thrive when they embrace diversity.

Perhaps our leaving can be an impetus for the greater community – lay leaders, rabbis, teachers, thinkers, funders and learners – to have what the good people at JT Boulder have been calling the Courageous Conversation. This is a conversation I want to be a part of. In the coming months, let’s get together and share memories and stories, tie up any loose ends, and speak about the great future that Aish Kodesh, and Jewish Boulder, are headed toward.

About Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

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  1. Rabbi Gavriel has been an extraordinary friend and colleague to me and others. He has always shown great respect to all of his rabbinic colleagues in Boulder of different denominations and perspectives and consistently challenged us to be the best we can be. It has not always been easy, but it has always been authentic. I feel like I am a better person and a better rabbi through knowing Rabbi G. I know that this move will be so good for my friend Gavriel and for his wonderful family and I wish them many blessings of joy and success in the transition. I will miss them all very, very much and I believe that they have contributed in some very deep and important ways to Boulder's Jewish community and will be leaving a legacy behind them. I am so happy for them and so sad for us. Rabbi Marc

  2. We will miss you! You have certainly contributed a lot to Jewish Boulder. Wishing you the best in your new position.

  3. Francine L Weaver

    OMG Gavriel and family, I wish you a sincere Mazel Tov on your new life that is awaiting you in Boston, one of my favorite cities. I am also saddened by your departure from the Boulder Jewish Community. You are a creative, out of the box thinker and have been a supporter of many of 18Pomegrantes Initiatives along the way. When we were Daring to Dream, you were dreaming along with us. When we began Dare to Do, you have also been with us. And now, as an integral part of the JTBoulder team, I look forward to continuing the "courageous conversations" that we at JTBoulder have begun. . . . and also seeing the fruit that it will bear. With much good will, nachas, and blessings, Francine Lavin Weaver.

  4. Rabbi Gavriel brought so much to Boulder. I think he makes all who he engages into better Jews, regardless of movement affiliation. His commitment to Torah and Torah values is inspiring, intense and completely authentic. Ketriellah has been an intensely committed powerful bonding force within the Aish community, a light to those who encounter her – as well as being a talented professional in her own right. While I personally feel a great sadness as the Goldfeders prepare to move on, this is surely a loss for the entire community. But we send you off with blessings, knowing that MIT is lucky to have all the Goldfeder family.

  5. Roberta Reinfeld

    What a wonderfully written letter; what sad news for us. You have done so much Rabbi, to broaden the experience of the Boulder Jew with your humor, your depth and your love of bring Jewish that I feel you are a gift for others to glean from now. May the years ahead bring you much joy, health and fulfillment. And may it not be too long until are paths cross again.


    Roberta Reinfeld

  6. Rabbi Jamie Korngold

    How blessed MIT is to have you on board and how fortunate we were to be with you for these many years, which passed so quickly. Thank you for all you brought to our community and our lives.

    PS: I "liked" this but for the record, I selfishly don't like it. 🙂

  7. I too echo the sentiments expressed by the above comments from those I also consider personal friends. The Goldfeders have impacted the lives of so many Jewish families in Boulder that their influence will continue to be felt for many years. I think his new position is a perfect fit for them,(as I wrote to him-‘Zol zein MIT Mazel un’ Bracha-may it be for good fortune and blessing) as well as for the community they are moving to. Strange how the lives of people we encounter continue to interweave with our own: I left Boston about 30 years ago because a Hillel rabbi talked to me about the need for a personal exodus, and one of the hardest parts of leaving was saying goodbye to close friends in Sharon, where the Goldfeders are moving. So too on the journeys of our lives and souls, we meet and, as it were, wave Shalom- hello, goodbye, and above all peace to our travel mates.
    I would like to add to R. Gavriel’s overview of Aish Kodesh’s history, special thanks to the original founders who put so much time, energy, and resources to build a foundation for an Orthodox shul in Boulder: Jonathan Bein, Matt Finberg, Karen Philips, and many others, including Reb Zalman, and Rabbi Hoffman of Denver. The Zohar says that no good intention on behalf of Judaism goes to waste and I bless these original founders to see their labors bear the fruits that they deserve.
    I wait with both interest and concern to see what the future of Jewish Boulder will look like, and ask some of the hard questions: Is there enough desire, commitment, and resources in Boulder to sustain an Orthodox congregation (Chabad, of course, aside)? These days to be viable, as Rabbi Goldfeder points out, a shul needs to create community, and not just a place to pray. In addition, what can the future of Torah life in Boulder look like without a Jewish Day School? I feel these two issues in particular go together. Beyond this, like Rabbi Elazar in the Haggadah, I put forth a challenge…’Behold I am as a person of seventy years’ (next Sukkot, G-d willing) and have yet to merit to see a fully thriving holy, and holistic Jewish community to the extent that it could be on so many fronts- prayer, education, ongoing Torah learning, social justice, Tikun Olam, and even yes, even great Kosher eating places to hang and to dream together. Certainly the new JCC complex will facilitate some of these. Boulder has so much potential and latent love for vibrant Jewish life; May G-d and his human partners manifest that potential in the years to come.

  8. As friend and student for nearly ten years that the Goldfeders have been in Boulder, I have had the good fortune to experience and observe R. Gavriels growth as a human, as a father, husband, teacher and as a Jew. From my vantage point, he has really walked the walk and exemplified living a life on a committed path of learning and teaching Torah. It is quite a challenge just to raise an observant family let alone a whole community in Boulder, Co. I see the MIT position as a gift and reward for the near decade of persevering in a town which was just crowned second least religious metro area in the US. In Boston, R. Gavriel will be challenged intellectually and supported through an already established community, including a number of good friends…how wonderful. He isn't just leaving here but following a well deserved path which has been carved out for his family. Ketriellah will be sorely missed by myself and the multitudes who've been blessed by her amazing cooking and extremely gracious hospitality, not to mention all the cholents and kiddush contributions. I know I speak for a chevra, filled with tremendous gratitude to the Rabbi and Ketriellah for all they've put out and put up with over these years. G-d willing we'll get to dance at Adin's Bar Mitzvah soon and celebrate the simcha of your new life out there. May Hashem bless the Goldfeder family as they embrace an amazing new beginning! As for missing you and bummed to see you go, ahh…

  9. Blessings to R. Gavriel! Nevei Kodesh will miss your work as a tutor with our B'nei Mitzvah students. You provided a welcome, needed, informed, rigorous, authentic living experience of the tradition to students who might not otherwise have been able to seriously engage in exploration of Judaism. We'll miss you.

  10. Gavriel, was truly an Angel, placed up high in Rocky Mountains to bring Torah down to thirsty Jews and non jews alike.