It was a memorable evening, for a lot of reasons. For starters, the Kollel was celebrating 15 years of bringing Torah study, Torah teaching, and Torah living to Denver.
It was memorable because Rabbi Yehuda Amsel, who was the Kollel’s beloved Outreach Director until his departure for Detroit this past fall, returned to Denver as the community paid tribute to him for his changing of Denver’s Torah landscape during his nearly fifteen-year tenure with the Kollel.
Then there was the surprise presentation to the deans of the Kollel, Rabbi Aron Yehuda Schwab and Rabbi Shachne Sommers, for their unstinting dedication and devotion to making the Kollel the distinguished organization it has become over the past 15 years. The unexpected turn of events came as Rabbi Amsel accepted his award from Rabbi Schwab. Rabbi Amsel then turned to the audience and asked Rabbi Yechiel Erlanger, Outreach Director for the Kollel, to ascend the podium. Rabbi Erlanger then presented the Roshei Kollel with a special award on behalf of all past and present Kollel members.
There was also the Kollel’s visual presentation, In the Air: The Torah Revolution. The production took a surprise twist when the video was interrupted by a special newscast of KNN, the Kollel News Network. Anchored by Marc Soicher, the newscast was humorous, entertaining, and informative, as it detailed the wonderful work the Kollel does in spreading Torah to Jews of all backgrounds throughout Denver.
Rabbi Mordechai Fleisher, Director of Community Education for the Kollel, discussed the numerous Torah study opportunities offered by the Kollel throughout Denver. “Our scholars travel to all parts of Denver,” he said. “We call it Torah without Walls.” He also mentioned the unique flexibility of the Kollel’s Partners in Torah program for women, which allows women to choose their time and location for one-on-one learning. Michael Bitton was one of those who took the Kollel up on its offer to teach Torah to Denver’s Jews. “I felt a strong connection with some of the words [I heard] yesterday,” he said. “I would like to become part of the Torah studies. I think my soul needs more.”
The concise 45-minute program was capped off by A Taste of Torah for Tycoons, as Rabbi Aron Yehuda Schwab presented an ethical dilemma regarding one’s ability to charge for services that were ostensibly rendered for free. After hearing the views of members of the audience, Rabbi Schwab discussed the Torah’s view of the various issues. Attendees enjoyed the intriguing presentation. “I found Rabbi Schwab’s presentation to be engaging,” said Mike Weiss. Rabbi Schwab then invited everyone to attend the Kollel’s monthly Torah for Tycoons program, specifically the March 6th session, which focused on immigration issues.
Following the program, everyone descended to the second floor of the McNichols Building, a recently renovated century-old structure where the Celebration was held. There they were treated to Wine & Dine: An Artistic Arrangement of Creative Cuisine, prepared by the Kollel women, led by Esti Schwab and Esti Erlanger. As in past years, attendees were impressed and delighted by the creative and delicious selection of delectables available for their enjoyment.
Those who came, in addition to helping the Kollel, enjoyed a delightful evening. “The event was very well-planned. The food was fabulous and was so elegantly prepared.” said Mike Weiss. “The venue, the atmosphere, the camaraderie were all wonderful. I came to support this most worthy cause (the Kollel and its scholars), and what a pleasure it is to do so while being treated to a wonderful night out. It was thoroughly enjoyable!”
“I really enjoyed the Kollel event,” said Lisa Soicher. “Rabbi Schwab demonstrated the type of learning they tackle in some of their community programs, and it was followed by such a beautiful meal prepared by the Kollel women. It was so impressive that they catered everything themselves. We felt like we were being welcomed into their own homes!”
“A beautiful event!” said Kathy Kaufman, chairwoman of the board at Aish Denver. “It gives us pleasure to support all of you at the Denver Community Kollel. Thank you for giving us this opportunity. And thank you for impacting our lives, and the lives of our children, in such positive ways.”