A Welcoming Space Opens in Colorado


by Rivka Chaya Berman - WESTMINSTER, CO

June 9, 2005

Looming gray clouds that lashed the mountainsides of Westminster, Colorado, with drenching rains blew out of town just in time for Chabad of Northwest Metro Denver to celebrate the grand opening of its freshly remodeled synagogue on June 6.

More than 120 people, community members, local dignitaries, and Jews from neighboring areas came to show their support and tour Chabad’s new prayer space, which is situated in the basement of the ranch house that sits on 2.1 acres of emerald green grassland.

Ribbon cutting honors went to Jordon Perlmutter of Jordon Permutter and Co., a major real estate development firm in the Rocky Mountain region with major holdings in the Northwest Denver area. As such, Perlmutter’s a pro at grand openings and he snipped the ribbon to the applause of all those gathered. His son, Jonathan, took hammer in hand to bang in the nails of the synagogue’s mezuzah.

Rabbi Benjy Brackman, who founded Chabad of NW Metro Denver with his wife Leah just over two years ago, said, “The Perlmutters and Chabad of North West Metro Denver both share a similar dream and goal, and that is the expansion of their investments in the NW Metro Denver community.”

Locals in attendance at the grand opening included Westminster Mayor Nancy McNally, City Manager Craig Kocian, and the Mayor of Thornton Noel Busck. Jordon Perlmutter’s company is in the process of building a 240 acre retail development in Thornton.

To conserve funds, the Brackmans shouldered the decorating and remodeling plans. Their goal wasn’t to make the synagogue fancy, but welcoming. They chose warm tones for the walls and selected carpeting over stone flooring to keep the space cozy. “We wanted to make it as comfortable, warm experience as possible so people feel it is a nice place to spend Saturday mornings,” said Brackman. “The dedication gave people a chance to see that even though it is not a massive shul, it has a neat, professional look to it.”

Turning a cold concrete-walled basement studded with massive support pillars into a serene synagogue was a big goal met thanks to the community members who literally lent a hand to the project. Community member Craig Chapel volunteered hours of his own time to wire up the recessed lighting. Two weeks prior to the ceremony, friends of Chabad cleared out weeds and mountainside scrub on the synagogue property.

Pitching in builds spirit, said Brackman. “People feel part of the community when they are involved in doing community projects,” he said. “They took pride in helping build the shul.”

A local kitchen company owner, Peter Sheinberg, whose nine-year-old son attends the Brackmans’ Hebrew school and Gan Israel Day Camp, installed Chabad’s kitchen. At the ceremony, Sheinberg recalled that at first his son was not too thrilled with the idea of attending Hebrew school, which meant attending school six days a week, but now he loves it.

Colorado’s rustic character played a role in the Brackman’s plans, too. A natural, all wood Torah ark and book shelves span an entire wall of the synagogue. An artisan who emigrated from Israel to Eerie, PA, did the woodworking. A local artist, Martin Small, who is a Holocaust survivor, created a four-foot square wood carving of Chabad of NW Metro Denver’s logo, a torch and Ten Commandment tablets hovering between two mountains. Small also loaned some his personal artwork collection to Chabad for display at the event.

Although the first major happening planned for the new space is services for Shavuout with an ice cream party, the Brackmans are already looking farther into the future. “The City of Westminster has already agreed to rezone the property for synagogue construction and a concept plan for 21,000 sq. ft building has been put together,” said Brackman. The Chabad Center’s location on a major street with “prairie dogs as our neighbors” is conducive to growth without the hassles faced by other Chabad houses.

Ever the developer, Jordon Perlmutter picked up on Brackman’s comment and said he looks forward to the next groundbreaking event.

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