Aspen Jewish Congregation
Yom Kippur Morning 5775 • 04 October 2014
Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah
My name is Craig Navias, and I am here this morning to invite all of you to continue your Journey with me and all of those who care deeply about our Aspen Jewish Congregation once these High Holidays are over.
I have been a member of this wonderful congregation since 2010, when my family and I moved from Dallas to this place we are now fortunate enough to call home. In Dallas, our Jewish lives consisted of enjoying weekly Shabbat dinners with our family, and attending our synagogue on high holidays.
When we moved to Aspen, my wife Esther suggested (very strongly I might add) that we go to Friday night services at the little Chapel which was not too far from our house. I reluctantly agreed. We were fortunate enough to start attending services at the same time as Rabbi David and Cantor Rollin (who are both greatly admired by all for reasons you are discovering for yourselves during these high-holiday services), and Friday nights and the Aspen Jewish Congregation have now become a very valuable and very beautiful part of my family’s lives.
While I cannot tell you that I am a more Jewish or a more religious man as a result of my families very strong connection to the Aspen Jewish Congregation, I can tell you that my life has been enriched through the wisdom and teachings of our brilliant young Rabbi and through the inspirational and beautiful melodies of our wonderful Cantor, and, more importantly, I can tell you that I have discovered something that was unknown to me previously – the blessings of a very strong community. Every Friday night, I look forward to seeing people who I have grown to care about deeply and who I know care deeply about me – I look forward to being with my community.
Whether it is people I see every Friday or second homeowners who I may not see for several months at a time, the connection is equally strong. For as many second homeowners who are such an integral part of our congregation will tell you, they are typically closer to this community than they are to their primary congregations. Why they feel closer to this community is something I invite all of you to find out for yourselves, but I suggest that it has little to do with these high-holiday services we all attend a few time a year. For while I am sure we all find meaning and fulfillment in these very beautiful Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, the true essence of our Congregation manifests itself every Friday night during our service and Oneg and through the many outdoor activities we enjoy as a community. I hope you all got to enjoy the beautiful second day Rosh Hashanah outdoor service at the Meadows, or that you have enjoyed a Mountain Minyan during Ski Season, or one of the many hikes or bike rides we continue to do as a community. If you have not, I urge you to find one of our outdoor events that appeals to you.
I was invited to speak here this morning simply to tell you my story and not to ask for money, but, fortunately for us, my story now includes ensuring the continued success of the Aspen Jewish Congregation, which requires your support. So I am going to ask each of you for your participation and for your financial help. Jewish enrichment, while a very necessary and I think very beautiful part of our lives, is unfortunately not free. While I don’t pretend to understand our sustainable member ship model, I do understand that the Aspen Jewish Congregation cannot exist without your generous support. Now if you are wondering whether I am speaking to the person in front of you, behind you, or to the person on either side of you – the answer is yes. But more importantly, I am speaking to you. We need the support of everyone.
Please know that I am not simply asking you to blindly write a check, I am inviting you to come to a Friday night service, to meet our Rabbi and Cantor and our congregation in a more intimate setting, and to be open to the possibility that you can be part of the kind of community that I have described. I invite you all to be there for and to support the Aspen Jewish Congregation, and, more importantly, to learn how the Aspen Jewish Congregation can support you.
I invite all of you to consider the possibility that the Aspen Jewish Congregation can be for you the great blessing that it continues to be for me. I believe strongly in what we do, and I support what we do – I hope that you will support us too.
I hope also that you will all have an easy and a meaningful fast, and that the coming year will bring blessings and peace. May it bring more of what each of us desires, and may it bring more of the Aspen Jewish Congregation into all of our lives.