Shabbat Shalom: Strength and Gratitude

Nov 21, 2023 | Article

Shabbat Shalom: Strength and Gratitude

Nov 21, 2023

By: Renée Rockford
President & CEO

We at JEWISHcolorado this week received one of our ongoing communications with Denverite-now-Israel resident Ken Toltz. He has been an outspoken supporter of Israel, appearing in the Israeli press, all the while staying in touch with his home community in Colorado.

Ken wrote, “I’ve been thinking of you and all your hardworking, committed staff at JEWISHcolorado in the midst of the worst crisis in Israel’s history since 1973. I am sending you thoughts of strength and gratitude for everything you are doing all day every day for six weeks and counting.” In the days since the war began, JEWISHcolorado has raised more than $6 million and provided dozens of ways for the community to come together, learn, and share, and support one another here at home and in Israel.

Ken and I saw one another at the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Tel Aviv in April – at a time when the weekly protests in the streets of Israel were at an all-time high. His note continued, “When we saw each other last spring, we never anticipated what October would bring. I do think all of these new activities of support for Israel bring new opportunities as well. It’s my hope that Israel-Diaspora Jewry relations are strengthened and put on a new level for a better future.”

Ken’s father, Warren Toltz z’l, was the chairman in 1973 for the Federation’s Israel Emergency Fund. Ken wrote, “I still remember the meeting he chaired at the JCC Shwayder Theatre packed with donors who made verbal pledges in the theater. People were very scared and worried about Israel’s future then.”

At that very same time growing up in Colorado Springs, my own father, David Bram, was heading the fundraising efforts there. It was also the time of my bat mitzvah, and this week’s parsha, Vayeitzei, is what I read on that occasion. I recall sending all of my bat mitzvah checks to the war effort – a reminder that we have been here before and persevered and together we will once again.

Vayeitzei is known for the story of Jacob’s Ladder, a remarkable symbol of the cycles of ascending and descending that we all face as individuals and as a nation throughout our history. May we endure our current crisis and be transported to a time of comfort and peace.

Please email Renée Rockford at with questions or comments.