Community Shavuot Experience Offers Array of Programs

May 11, 2021 | Article

Community Shavuot Experience Offers Array of Programs

JEWISHcolorado invites the statewide community to a virtual Shavuot and a night of communal learning May 16-17, 2021, with programming running from 5:00 p.m. until past midnight MT. The impressive lineup has three different learning sessions, children’s programming, a plenary session, a prayer service, and music and features rabbis and educators from across the state. Sessions are hosted online by more than two dozen synagogues and JEWISHcolorado. All Shavuot sessions are free; pre-registration is required.

Shavuot commemorates the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people. Many Jews celebrate the holiday by staying up all night on the eve, or erev, of Shavuot to study and symbolically prepare for receiving the wisdom of the Torah.

This year’s series of virtual learning sessions is being billed as a night of Jewish rebirth, renewal, and revelation. The centerpiece session is an interview at 7:00 p.m. MT with Rabbi Dr. Erin Leib Smokler, editor of the recently published book Torah in a Time of Plague, conducted by JEWISHcolorado’s Chief Jewish Life & Engagement Officer Dr. Julie Lieber. Their discussion will be followed by a panel featuring Rabbi Dr. Caryn AvivJudaism Your Way’s rabbinic and education director, Dr. David Sanders, founder and spiritual director of Kabbalah Experience, and Dr. Daniel Hettleman, a clinical psychologist whose work is informed by his Jewish studies and practices.

The evening will also feature t’filah, or a prayer service, at 8:15 p.m., led by clergy from different synagogues along the Front Range. “The event is in keeping with a central theme of Shavuot: the birth of the Jewish people when they came together to receive the Torah,” said Dr. Julie Liber. “Even if you’re someone who didn’t grow up with a practice that included Shavuot, it’s a fitting time to consider what rebirth, renewal, and revelation mean to each of us. All of us, no matter our denomination, are reemerging together from the pandemic. What lessons have we learned? What can we carry forward with us? These themes are universal and at the center of Shavuot.”

The virtual Shavuot, like a similarly virtual Selichot program, came together in the wake of the pandemic, and this will be its second consecutive year. Based on its early success and popularity, it may be something that is repeated year after year. Said Lieber, “I think the registration numbers for last year’s and this year’s online Shavuot indicate that, in a post-COVID world, there’s an appetite for our Colorado community gathering as a whole to learn from and with each other.” In a normal year, synagogues might each provide their own programming to a smaller group of attendees, but “we felt that joining together as one large community would make for a more meaningful experience for everyone,” said Lieber.

Planners of the event included staff members from JEWISHcolorado, the Rocky Mountain Rabbis and Cantors, and members of the clergy from the Hebrew Educational Alliance, Temple Emanuel, and the JCC. “The collaboration of people from all walks of Jewish life for this event is a reminder of how much we can do together, and it is very much in keeping the spirit of Shavuot,” said JEWISHcolorado President and CEO Rabbi Jay Strear.

Rebirth, Renewal & Revelation: A Community Shavuot Experience sessions:

 May 16

Young Family Shavuot Program

5:00 pm–6:00 pm MT

Join some of our craftiest crafters and peppiest performers for a Shavuot celebration designed for kids of all ages (but mainly little kids and their parents).

Teen Learning Session

6:00–7:30 pm MT

·      Climbing Sinai: Finding Your Path & Exploring Who You Are | Brad Cohen

·      The Land of Milk and Honey: Shavuot in Israel | Adi Gorbman, JEWISHcolorado Israeli Emissary (Shinshinit)

·      T’filah & Music | Dan Yolles

Learning Session 1

6:00 pm–7:00 pm MT

·      Exile or Diaspora? An Evolution of Identity as American Jews | Rabbi Jordy Callman | Temple Sinai

·      What Happened at Sinai: Jewish Mindfulness & An Exploration of the Revelation of Torah | Rabbi Brian Field | Judaism Your Way

·      Revelation Revealed: What in Heaven Was Revealed at Sinai? | Rabbi Eliot J Baskin, DMin | RMRC

·      Revelation: The Opportunity of a Lifetime or a Lifetime of Opportunity? | Rabbi Joshua Ginsberg-Margo

·      Torah of Pain: Crowns and Thorns | Morah Yehudis Fishman | Jewish community educator

·      How 4 Dreams Changed the Fate of the Jewish People Forever | Rabbi Sally Finestone | Congregation Har Shalom, Fort Collins

·      Take Two Tablets and Call Me In The Morning | Rabbi Ya’akov Chaitovsky | BMH BJ Congregation

·      Musical Midrash & the Modern Piyyut: A Spiritual Journey Through Torah & Tefillah | Rabbi Joseph Black | Temple Emanuel


7:00–8:15 pm MT

A discussion with Rabbi Dr. Erin Leib Smokler, editor of a recently published book Torah in a Time of Plague, and JEWISHcolorado’s Chief Jewish Life & Engagement Officer Dr. Julie Lieber. Their talk will be followed by a panel, featuring Jewish educators and leaders from our community.

Our panelists:

  • For the last fifteen years, Rabbi Dr. Caryn Aviv has had one foot in academia and one foot in Jewish entrepreneurship. After earning her PhD from Loyola University Chicago, she taught Jewish studies and sociology at University of Colorado at Boulder and University of Denver. Dr. Aviv also served as co-founder/director of research with Jewish Mosaic, the director of Storahtelling Colorado, and has written three books on diverse Jews and Jewish culture. Rabbi Aviv leads the Open Tent Be Mitzvah program for Judaism Your Way.

  • Dr. David Sanders is the founder and spiritual director of Kabbalah Experience. A teacher’s teacher, he combines over thirty years of experience as both a psychologist and Kabbalist helping guide people to deeper awareness and fulfillment in their lives. Dr. Sanders also maintains an active therapy practice, specializing in working with couples and families. He is co-authoring a book on creating new families after divorce and is the author of two books on mysticism and language.

  • Dr. Daniel Hettleman is a clinical psychologist who specializes in family therapy. Outside of his private practice, he is an adjunct faculty member in the Psychology Department at the University of Denver, working with graduate students, and he also consults with area schools and organizations. Dr. Hettleman’s work is informed by his Jewish studies and practices.


8:15 pm–9:00 pm MT

A multi-denominational prayer service, featuring music and a healing moment.

Learning Session 2

9:00 pm–10:00 pm MT

·      Revealing & Concealing: Jewish Concepts of Torah Revelation | Rabbi Rick Rheins | Temple Sinai

·      Resilience: Returning to Sinai…Over and Over Again | Rabbi Fred Greene | Congregation Har HaShem

·      10 Commandments, yes! But, Moses dies at 120? | Rabbi David J. Zucker

·      For the TIME–Being: What is our relationship with the past, present, and future? | Dr. David Sanders, Rabbi Jamie Arnold & Melanie Gruenwald | Kabbalah Experience

·      Sitting at Sinai: Receiving Torah Through Mindfulness Practice | Rabbi Salomon Gruenwald | Hebrew Educational Alliance

·      Hashiveinu: Renewal and Returning| Ariela HaLevi | Soul Centered

·      B’reisheet: A Word about Beginnings | Rabbi Kim Harris | Congregation B’nai Chaim

·      We Didn’t Start the Fire, the Power of Love, Don’t Stop Believin’ (and Other 80’s Hits that Teach Torah) | Rabbi Emily Hyatt | Temple Emanuel

Learning Session 3

10:00 pm–11:00 pm MT

·      Do We Really Want God to Speak with Us? | Dr. Elias Sacks | University of Colorado, Boulder

·      OYYY! Sighing & Groaning as a Jewish Spiritual Practice to Prepare for Revelation | Rabbi Marc Soloway | Congregation Bonai Shalom

·      Hebrew Kirtan: Music from the Contemplative to the Ecstatic | Hal Aqua | B’nai Havurah

·      What Do Jews Believe about Life after Death| Rabbi Daniel Roberts


11:00 pm–11:30 pm MT

Join Hal Aqua for a musical celebration and conclusion of this period of Torah study.

Late Night Tikkun

11:30 pm MT–midnight and onward

Join Rabbi Kobrin, Rabbi Gruenwald, and Rabbi Soloway for Shavuot after dark.

For the security of the event, the 2021 Shavuot webpage will be password protected on Friday, May 14. Registrants will receive a confirmation email that includes the password to the 2021 Shavuot webpage. Registrants are asked to save the confirmation email: it is how participants will access the page on Sunday, May 16.

Please direct all questions to