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Jewish temple taking shape

Eben Harrell

A local Jewish organization announced the construction of Aspen’s first synagogue this week.

The Jewish Community Center will be located on the corner of Fourth and Main streets and will offer a variety of services including a preschool, summer camps, bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies, after-school teen programs, religious education and counseling.

The center will be run by Mendel Mintz, a New York-born rabbi who has been working for years to build a synagogue in Aspen. Fund-raising efforts paid off last week, when Mintz was able to close a deal to buy an entire strip of Main Street between Third and Fourth streets.

The property includes the recently renovated cabins of L’Auberge D’Aspen lodge. Mintz said he has hired a property management group to ensure the cabins remain available to the public.

Mintz said the prominent placement of the center will acknowledge the importance of Aspen’s Jewish community.

“The idea for the location was not to be ‘in your face’ but to have a proud presence in town,” Mintz said.

When constructed, the center will be run by approximately eight employees, including Mintz’s wife, Lieba, who will administer the school’s youth programs. Mintz, who is trained as an Orthodox rabbi, will lead religious services as well as offer adult education classes on Judaism. The center will eventually house three torahs – the holy, hand-scribed scriptures of Judaism.

Before construction begins, Mintz must receive city approval, which could take anywhere from six months to two years. Mintz said the center’s construction will help bolster tourism in the city.

“There are a lot of Jewish people around America and the world at large who would like to come to Aspen but are inhibited,” Mintz said. “The center will provide access to Kosher food and to Jewish services. We really think it will bolster tourism.”

Fund-raising for the center will continue in the coming months, with several dedication opportunities still available. The campaign has already seen several significant contributions, including some donations over $1 million, according to Mintz.

Mintz said he has listed the prices for dedications in multiples of 18, the symbol which represents life in Hebrew.

For more information contact the Jewish Resource Center Chabad Aspen at 544-3770.

Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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