Colorado Floods Wreak Havoc With Jewish Holidays as Shuls Battle Rising Water

Boulder and Denver Inundated by Historic Disaster

Rising Waters: Congregations in Boulder, Colo. were scrambling to save anything they could after historic floods swept through the region.
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Rising Waters: Congregations in Boulder, Colo. were scrambling to save anything they could after historic floods swept through the region.

By Andrea Jacobs

Published September 17, 2013.
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(JTA) — Before the start of Yom Kippur, a flood of historic proportions swallowed Boulder, Colo., and surrounding areas, displacing families, damaging synagogues and threatening services on the holiest day of the Jewish year – until determination came to the rescue.

Orthodox Boulder Aish Kodesh hit the Internet first, sending a mass email to 500 residents announcing that heavy rains and flooding had destroyed the tent it had prepared for the holiday. The email offered alternative locations for services, including hard-hit Chabad centers and Denver synagogues out of harm’s way.

Elon Bar-Evan, executive director of Boulder Aish Kodesh, said the tent and parking lot were under water and that many prayer books intended for the services were ruined.

Rabbi Marc Soloway, spiritual leader of Conservative Bonai Shalom in Boulder, told the IJN Friday that his synagogue had sustained significant flooding.

“Our Yom Kippur services are scheduled elsewhere, but it is unclear whether we will be able to have them there at this point due to flooded roads and so forth,” Soloway said. “It’s a mess.”

At Har HaShem, Boulder’s major Reform synagogue, the power was out.

“The lower level of the main building was under four feet of water,” said communications and membership director Ellen Kowitt, reached at her home in Erie, Colo.

Because Kowitt often works from home, she was able to update the website. Before the server collapsed, Rose wrote an email to the congregation:

“The Talmud teaches that rain is a sign of blessing. That might sound questionable right now. Whether we can turn this into a blessing remains to be seen … I believe in us.”


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