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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Judaism Your Way

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Judaism, Religion

Mission: JYW’s mission is to offer innovative opportunities to connect Jewishly for Jews and their loved ones

Results: Over the last 12 months we have touched the lives of more than 2000 people through our programs and lifecycle event services.  Our email list of those interested in hearing about our offerings has grown to more than 1600.

Target demographics: * those not affiliated with existing institutions, * those otherwise disengaged from active Jewish life, * interfaith couples and families, * LGBT individuals, couples, and families * “Jewish-plus” individuals and families, that is, those whose spirituality and identity encompasses more than Judaism, and * individuals and families of all financial means

Geographic areas served: Greater Denver/Boulder Metro Area

Programs: Provide life cycle events in jewish lives ranging from the celebration of birth to death and all holidays found on the jewish calendar; to provide the necessary spiritual counseling addressing jewish laws and customs and education regarding living a jewish life.

Community Stories

84 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

13

Board Member

Rating: 5

Judaism Your Way is serving people in the Denver/Boulder community by providing life cycle events and programs for Jews and their families who feel that their needs have not yet been met by traditional Jewish organizations. People feel welcome, and are offered many opportunities to participate in Jewish life in a way that fits for them.

14

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family and I attended a JYW event that was very enjoyable and during which we all learned a lot about a lovely Jewish holiday that we had previously been unfamiliar. It was a lovely experience to get together with other Jews and celebrate Jewish culture in general. The JYW staff/organization clearly put a huge amount of effort into the event, and designed something that had activities and meaning for people of all ages. I think that JYW provides an invaluable service for unaffiliated Jews in Colorado and also offers a creative set of programs that affiliated Jews can benefit from as well.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

JYW has been an invaluable resource for our family. We are an interfaith family so finding a place where we are comfortable and can practice and learn about Judaism has been difficult. This organization filled the need on many levels. Rabbi Field taught a series of classes for elementary school children who were not affiliated but wanted some Jewish education. He met with the parents and designed a curriculum that worked. We are grateful. JYW acted as a resource for Interfaith Community of Denver in providing workshops and discussions for interfaith families. The services have been wonderful and inclusive - filling deep needs. I loved overhearing an older gentleman comment, "Now this is how a service should be!" I was asked to be a resource speaker at the JYW support group for interfaith families which was a great experience and obviously filled a need for new interfaith couples. The Stop N Shabbat programming has been innovative and interesting and Fun! They expose people to a wide variety of Jewish experiences and expressions. It has been so good to find a Jewish home for our family with such great resources and our roles have been as client, student, volunteer, etc. We are so grateful.

Previous Stories
4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

JYW has been an invaluable resource for our family. We are an interfaith family so finding a place where we are comfortable and can practice and learn about Judaism has been difficult. This organization filled the need on many levels. Rabbi Field taught a series of classes for elementary school children who were not affiliated but wanted some Jewish education. He met with the parents and designed a curriculum that worked. We are grateful. JYW acted as a resource for Interfaith Community of Denver in providing workshops and discussions for interfaith families. The services have been wonderful and inclusive - filling deep needs. I loved overhearing an older gentleman comment, "Now this is how a service should be!" I was asked to be a resource speaker at the JYW support group for interfaith families which was a great experience and obviously filled a need for new interfaith couples. The Stop N Shabbat programming has been innovative and interesting and Fun! They expose people to a wide variety of Jewish experiences and expressions. It has been so good to find a Jewish home for our family with such great resources and our roles have been as client, student, volunteer, etc. We are so grateful.

5

Board Member

Rating: 5

Judaism Your Way is the first organization that I know of in Denver to really try to connect Jews without obligation or only in search of funding. JYW tries to really reach those in the Jewish Community who have not been reached by any other Jewish organization in years. There is a place for Jews in the Denver area where people can connect on there own terms without being told how much to give or how often to participate. JYW offers this to the greater community.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am in an interfaith family. Fourteen years ago when I was looking for options to get married I found the options at the two reformed synagogues I had a relationship with wouldn't perform the ceremony. In the fourteen years we have been married we hadn't found a fit for our family to participate in the traditional institutions in town until Judaism Your Way. We are raising our children Jewish and have found a resourse to make us feel comfortable and welcome participating in the local Jewish Community.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family is interfaith and we discovered Judaism Your Way several years ago when we were searching for a rabbi who would consent to marry us in a combined Jewish/Christian ceremony. We found in Judaism Your Way an organization and a staff that has been so supportive and inclusive of our family and our needs. We felt very excluded from the synagogues we had went to with family and friends; a community that was very vocally against any kind of interfaith marriages and family. Judaism Your Way opened their doors to us, and because of this we have found a new community of interfaith friends, religious experiences that our family feels comfortable with, and spiritual dialogue that we felt was missing in our life. My husband, who is Jewish, had been very unconnected from Judaism for years. He further distanced himself from Judaism when we received no warmth from other Jewish organizations and synagogues when we searched for a spiritual home as a family. Now, he embraces his Jewish identity more and is comfortable in continuing to explore his Jewish roots and spirituality. As a non Jew, I feel very welcomed. I have always felt comfortable in asking questions and seeking knowledge, even when I know it is very basic. We look forward to celebrating more life events with Judaism Your Way as our family grows: baby namings, child education, and family spiritual events. Judaism Your Way is a part of our spiritual family!

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

JYW's philosophy is what every Jewish agency needs in the 21st century: start with an understanding that customers are savvy and wants meaning in their lives; seek commnity but define it differently than their parents do; live by Jewish values but know less about their roots than any previous generation; and will always seek more if the products and services they access are high quality and strike a chord. These customers are not looking for less authenticity at all, just a product that doesn't judge them or force them into boxes. JYW is a living laboratory and we need more like it and we need them now.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter's Bat Mitzvah experience was the best I could ask for. She met with Rabbi Brian Fields one time per month for a year. She connected and felt very comfortable with the Rabbi. Their training sessions were something my daughter looked forward to each month. The outcome was a very happy and educated Bat Mitzvah. I would highly recommend Rabbi Field to work with any young children.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It's the best way possible to make interesting new friends with an interest in Judaism. It's a REAL asset to our community.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization provides a wonderful, spiritual, and meaningful experience every time I have attended. The High Holiday services, the stargazing and menorah-gazing at Chanukah, the folk dancing at the Shabbats at the park, the Challah baking--- all are not offered anywhere else.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

When our kids were in elementary school they spent a few years going to temple/religious school on Saturday mornings. Then, their sports took over and we found ourselves pulling our kids out of Saturday morning religious school all the time. We always felt so guilty doing that, but our kids really loved their sports. Our daughter Jacki is a figure skater, and our twin sons Jeremy & Ethan play competitive travel ice & roller hockey. We weren't involved with any of the temples functions because we live about 25 minutes away, and it always seemed to conflict with the kids sports. We also felt guilty going because we never went to many things, and didn't know anybody. The following year our children didn't attend any religious school, and we really weren't sure if they would ever have the chance to have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. We met Rabbi Brian Field a few years back during the High Holiday services. We thought it was a fabulous laid back atmosphere, and such a wonderful service. As the High Holidays approached we went back to his service which Judaism Your Way (JYW) holds at no charge to all who would like to attend. This year I noticed the attendance increased double in size, and again it was wonderful. It was time to call JYW to see about the possibility of a Bar/Bat or B'nai Mitzvah for our children. Rabbi Field sat down with us and described the many choices we had for our children. He didn't tell us there was only one way or one choice, but there were many choices!! Also, he was flexible on days and times! Discussing this decision with our children they were very excited about the adventure. All three decided they wanted to have the Mitzvah together. We picked a time during the week to meet that worked for the Rabbi, and our children. Then, we started our journey for the next year and 3 months. We were on the way to a three-way B'nai Mitzvah! We set the date for a summer Mitzvah because it wouldn't conflict with sports. Rabbi Field was always wonderful. There was never any stress put on any of us. The most important thing is the kids loved him! Leaving their first session with Rabbi Field they jumped in the car and said it was "amazing"! They said the same thing at the last session!! There was never a struggle to go to their sessions. They enjoyed every moment of them. Jacki studied Hebrew with Cantor Birdie all year. Her Torah portion at the Mitzvah was absolutely beautiful. The boys picked separate projects to research. All three studied at their own pace, and chose their own direction. Their B'nai Mitzvah took place on July 25th, 2009. It was amazing!! Rabbi Field put together the most incredible service EVER!! Each kid had their own moment, and it was so special. Three kids all doing different things in one Mitzvah, and it went so smooth! Rabbi Field has a wonderful way of taking a large group of people, and making them feel so comfortable. He allows for people to be part of the service instead of watching the service. We are soooo happy and proud to continue to be a part of JYW. We always feel welcomed, and wanted. The most amazing part of all of this is that our kids are proud to be Jewish. They were also taught how to be good people. Better people. How to make this world a better place. To be honest people. Most of all Rabbi Field taught them acts of loving kindness. I can't thank them enough for everything they have done for our family. This year all three kids had to write papers about an experience in their life. They all wrote about their Mitzvah, and that it was the best day of their lives. Mandi & Larry Solat

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I were visiting the three synagogues in The Jewish Ghetto in Venice recently and the guide explained to us how the bimah was situated in the middle of the room and the Torah therefore, was read from that position. My husband caught my eye and mouthed,"Just like Rabbi Field did on Rosh Hashanah." I nodded, "Yes." Rabbi Field brought the Torah to us and we gathered around it like the sages of old. What an warm and emotional time we had. Singing and reading and sharing surrounding the scroll. That experience is symbolic of Judaism Your Way. Rabbi Field and the programs bring Judaism to the people. To paraphrase his opening remarks on the High Holidays. "Welcome to you no matter where you are in your Jewish path. We welcome you no matter who and what you are. Welcome to those who are not Jewish, but whose beloved is. WELCOME!!! What an incredible thought! No guilt Judaism. Everyone is invited to be participate and to share this Jewish experience. No longer a member of a congregation, I faced a real dilemma when my son wanted to have a naming ceremony for his daughter whose mother was not Jewish. I sought out a orthodox friend of mine and asked, "Do you know any rabbi that might hold a naming ceremony?" Fortunately I was told to contact JYW. I spoke to Rabbi Field who then spoke to my son and his wife and a ceremony was created that was inclusive and comfortable to all and my grandaughter was named after her great grandmother amidst a gathering of her family and friends. Her brother, three years later was also given his Jewish name. My second son and his intended had been attending an interfaith couples discussion group led by Rabbi Field and when they decided to marry, it was under the chupa. JYW creates Judaism in a modern meaningful manner. Celebrations of holidays are in creative and unique venues and the participants are engaged in the activity and celebrating the Jewish experience happily. I am unable to articulate the depth of my gratitude for Judaism Your Way. It plays a vital in our community and we are so very fortunate to have the program in the Denver Area.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We are an interfaith couple and found Judaism Your Way when we were searching for a Rabbi who would perform our ceremony. In Judaism Your Way we found what we were looking for and so much more. In addition to helping us craft a ceremony which included elements from both of our traditions, JYW offered interfaith discussion groups where we found informative and stimulating discussions on the joys and challenges we are facing. We also started attending some of the wonderful holiday services Judaism Your Way offers. When we were experiencing personal difficulties, we found a sympathetic ear. In short, Judaism Your Way has helped us connect in a much deeper and meaningful way with each other and our faiths than we otherwise would have. While it is not a replacement for the fellowship we have within our local synagogue, it provides important additional elements we were not receiving elsewhere. We so enjoy our experiences with Judaism Your Way that we think nothing of the 120 mile roundtrip journey we undertake to attend.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

JYW is a vibrant community where all Jews and their families can find refuge and connect in wonderful new ways. I am a Zen priest, and often encounter Jewish men and women who are attracted to Zen meditation. I am always looking for ways to deepen the experience of meditative mind and bring the resulting benefits of wisdom and compassion into the lives of all who are interested. JYW has provided a place where I can deepen my own understanding and appreciation of Judaism in ways that enable me to serve more fully. Rabbi Field has been a friend and an inspiration to us all.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

JYW is a wonderful place were learning is easy and fun by dipping into a Spiritual type pot luck were everyone is giving and receiving in the form of Jewish enlightenment. Rabbi Field,in his class groups hands out litatue in the form of written passages and we all take turns reading, sharing what needs to be discussed. Anyone who attends will be taken with the way this man leads his Flock…You will believe if you attend.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I do a lot of songleading and playing music in the Denver Jewish community -- part-time at a Reconstructionist congregation and a Reform Temple and for a number of other shuls, programs and organizations. I've worked with Rabbi Brian for several years at many JYW events, and from the outset I've always been impressed with Brian's ability to draw people in and help them open themselves to the creative possibilities of Jewish life. Brian models a Judaism that is inclusionary, nonjudgmental, affirming and sweet. Backed by his capable and hardworking staff, he exhibits true menschiness and guides an organization that Colorado is lucky to have.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My most recent experience with JYW was at the High Holy Days services. While I hesitated about going to the campus at DU, rather than the beautiful Hudson Gardens where the service were held last year, I realized it wasn't the surroundings that made it special, it was the way Rabbi Field (and staff) presented the experience. My husband and I are very grateful for JYW as it gives a place to join others in celebrating Judaism. We are both at a time in our lives that we don't need what a traditional synagogue offers. Our appreciation goes out to JYW for being there. We look forward to attending the Bat Mitzvah of our dear friend's daughter next year...but will be participating in other services prior to that with Rabbi Field.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a black woman and a lesbian, it can be challenging to find Jewish spaces where I am welcomed with unquestioning warmth. I have always found this warmth with Judaism Your Way. I feel able to participate fully where I am at as a Jewish identified individual. That is the beauty of both the organization't title and the vision behind that title. I believe that Judaism Your Way opens the door for all Jews as well as people interested in Judaism to explore their pasts, presents, futures and possibilities of observance and expression in a safe and supportive way. Because it is Judaism your way and not "their way" or "the way," it removes the stresses of not fitting in. In my eyes, Judaism Your Way provides a unique service and a powerful contribution to the Denver community.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a venue which to ,both my husband and I, is a way to get in touch with our spirituality in a more meaningfull way. Our most recent experience at the High Holy days with the rabbi and those who helped act out the Torah portion, we thought, was an excellent way to bring Torah into a more relavant light---so one could actually relate to it (great for the young people). The use of music (both solo and group singing) pulls us together in our prayer. And, I for one, find the music soulfood!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

What great fortune to have Judaism Your Way in Denver! This is a very unique organization, one that we'd be lucky to find in a more cosmopolitan city. My husband and I came to know of JYW through their High Holiday services, which unlike most temples, are open to all. This attitude of being so warm, welcoming, curious and open to questions of Jewish identity and Jewish development is what makes this organization unique and STELLAR! I cannot overemphasize this! JYW is a safe and ENERGIZING place to ask questions and to dialogue about many things. Rabbi Brian is truly open to discovery. He's highly educated, funny, intellectual, down to earth, and REAL. He doesn't proport to have "the answers" and is not interested in being "the expert." More like a learned scholar who is always learning more, and open to exploring with his clients, he faciliates an experience where it is safe to ask questions and continue to dialogue. Rabbi Brian performed the naming ceremony for our girl-boy twins, creating a meaningful, interfaith way to honor the start of their earthly journeys while including our family and closest friends Jewish, Christian and Buddhist, in the ceremony. The result was an experience that was original, heartfelt, expansive in its scope, and inclusive of the interfaith audience it served. Our friends and family LOVED IT! Experiences like this make JYW stand out as a place in which I WANT to educate my children, and continue to learn myself. JYW is a multi-generational learning and growth experience. Adults and children can learn about their Jewish heritage, explore their identities as Jews, and continue to ponder their spiritual choices. Questions are welcome, and each person's interpretation of what it is to be Jewish is met with interest, education, and an investment in that person's understanding of what makes life meaningful for her or him. I cannot recommend JYW highly enough! I'm just so glad that it's here, in my hometown.