The new Martin wing of the Denver Art Museum was abuzz with people as I walked through the large, glass front doors. The signs I had just dropped off with the events team were now propped up on easels, and the table on the right was now covered in a tablecloth and filled with our guest’s nametags. On the left was the small restaurant where the pre-reception was being set up, complete with a step-and-repeat for photo ops with the guest of honor, Noa Tishby. I passed the welcome desk and made my way up the magnificent spiral staircase toward the main room, following our signs, of course.
The stairs opened into an expansive, oval-shaped room, complete with floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The JEWISHcolorado logo was prominently displayed on the dropdown screen at the far end of the room, and the tech team was bustling around their complicated station of sound boards, cameras, and big red buttons. On stage next to the dropdown screen, the Andy Statman Trio was warming up, adding their klesmer sounds to the setup process. I could not help but stop and listen, enchanted as the trio moved through their set. The vibe in the room was already electric.
As six o’clock arrived, guests began to trickle in, garbed in their best outfits from fancy suits to flowing dresses. I even had a chance run-in with Noa Tishby herself as she made her way down the spiral stairs (she grinned and said “hi” to me. She knows I exist now. No biggie). The din gradually got louder as more people arrived, adding to the already incredible mood in the room. Laughter and smiles could be seen everywhere you looked, proving that people were genuinely happy to be together again. It even took the JEWISHcolorado team several attempts to get people to find their seats for the program because everyone was so excited to reconnect!
The program itself made quite the impact on all the guests, with the most compelling portion of course being the conversation between Noa Tishby and JEWISHcolorado’s President & CEO, Rabbi Jay Strear. A key moment I took from their conversation was Tishby’s thoughts and comments on how to talk to the next generation about Israel, and that we cannot simply skip over the hard conversations when it comes to the Jewish State. “If we don’t have these hard talks about Israel with them, they will ultimately find out from other sources, wonder why they didn’t receive this information from us, and then we lose them,” she said (I am paraphrasing here). This resonated with me because I believe, in any context, that we need to be brave enough to have difficult conversations and be strong enough to be okay with differing opinions, and the “agree to disagree” moments, even if they are between us and someone we care about.
Come Together was one of the most memorable evenings I have had since beginning my journey with JEWISHcolorado back in March. While Judaism has always been part of my life, whether it was at home celebrating Jewish holidays, or spending my summers at Camp Shalom in Wisconsin, this part of myself has always been present, and I have rediscovered old memories and have been fortunate enough to make new ones with this incredible team. I have also been able to dive deeper into Jewish history, and really dig into a greater understanding of Judaism, Israel, and where I fit in as a Latin American Jew within this community. I am grateful for this experience and cannot wait to continue this journey of discovery with JEWISHcolorado.