The global center for learning and action selects Denver as its newest full-time hub city.
DENVER, COLORADO, August, 2022 — Valley Beit Midrash, a global center for learning and action, announced Thursday the official launch of VBM Denver. This branch of the international nonprofit organization rooted in Jewish values will focus on being a collaborative force for good in Denver through the pillars of education, social justice work, and leadership development.
VBM Denver will serve to lift up and support partners in both the Jewish and non-Jewish spaces of the Mile High region. The organization will look to partner with local synagogues and other local Jewish organizations to act as an amplification of those communities’ work by promoting educational and leadership development happenings to a more expansive network and providing other support in the creation of those programs. VBM Denver has already secured partnerships with three of the largest synagogues in Denver – Temple Emanuel, the Hebrew Educational Alliance, and the BMH-BJ Congregation.
VBM Denver will help organize and mobilize those Jewish communities and beyond to be a force for good on social justice issues at the Colorado level. The organization will be strictly non-partisan and take part in both direct action and policy advocacy in collaboration with community partners of any faith background.
Valley Beit Midrash, the international organization, is led out of Phoenix by Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz who serves as President & Dean of the nonprofit. Rabbi Yanklowitz was recognized as one of the top faith leaders to watch by the American Center for Progress in 2022. Under his guidance, VBM operates on the belief that learning which does not lead to action is incomplete, and that action which does not include learning is non-effective.
VBM Denver will be led full-time by their new Director, Ethan B. Widoff.
On the hire, Yanklowitz says, “Ethan is incredibly dynamic and talented, and we are sure he will offer the Denver Jewish community so much in this exciting new full-time role as Director of VBM Denver!”
Widoff is a Denver native with deep ties to the Jewish history of the city and joins VBM Denver after three years at the CU Boulder Hillel as their Director of Jewish Student Life. Widoff says, “I have always been inspired by the words of Rabbi Abraham Heschel who when asked if he had time for prayer while marching with Dr. King in Selma responded, ‘I prayed with my feet.’ I hope VBM Denver will help continue to grow a community of people who shake the earth here in Denver with their collective footsteps.”
Widoff is also joined by Zack Sapinsley who will continue to serve as the Colorado Jews for Justice Fellowship Director. This fellowship began in January of 2022 as one of the first Denver projects of VBM, when they selected 11 young Jewish professionals to meet monthly to learn firsthand from social action experts in Denver. The fellows have also each been tasked with creating their own social action project as part of the completion of their commitment. VBM Denver will soon begin recruiting for the 2023 program. To learn more about VBM Denver and to get involved in any of their new educational, social action, or leadership development offerings, visit Valley Beit Midrash Denver on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or visit www.valleybeitmidrash.org for more information on the international Valley Beit Midrash organization.