For local Jews who lack a synagogue, havurah to fill a need |

For local Jews who lack a synagogue, havurah to fill a need

When Jewish folks don’t have the numbers to start and maintain a synagogue, they sometimes form a havurah group.

That’s what Glenwood Springs resident Debra Drew is doing, and the group’s first meeting is at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Thursday, May 23. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Drew said the Hebrew word “havurah” basically means “friends.”

“It’s the get-together of a group of friends,” Drew said.

Several activities can take place in a havurah group. Meetings are often held in someone’s home, where they might study the Torah or the Hebrew language, hold worship services, discuss current events and even share potluck meals.

“It fills the hole when there’s not a synagogue to attend,” Drew explained.

Drew has been advertising the havurah’s formation for the past few weeks, and she has received 15 phone calls from Glenwood Springs to Parachute.

“That shows me there’s a real need for this,” Drew said.

Callers’ ages range from their 30s to their 70s. “A real variety have called,” she said.

Drew said one reason for the interest is because the nearest Jewish congregation is in El Jebel, which is part of a larger Aspen congregation, and Glenwood Springs is a more convenient location.

In a havurah group, there’s no specific leader like at services held in synagogues. “It’s a lay group, so it’s a matter of anyone can lead … there’s always natural leader,” Drew said, before joking that sometimes there’s more than one.

Drew, who studied in the Beit Tikva synagogue in Santa Fe, has contacted Rabbi Leonard Hellman at that synagogue, asking for advice and other tips on starting a havurah group.

The Jewish sabbath runs from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Drew said worship services are held Friday evenings, and longer services are on Saturday mornings.

Drew, 51, is a stock broker for Edward Jones. She moved from the Albuquerque area to Glenwood Springs with her husband, Spencer, who works at Canyon Honda.

“His family was from the Western Slope,” Drew said.

The couple has two adult children, and a grandson.

Drew said she really enjoyed her work in synagogues, and she’s looking forward to getting people together at the Glenwood Springs havurah group.

“I’ve been meeting a lot of great people, and am really enjoying it,” she said.

For more information on the Glenwood Springs havurah group, call 928-0500 or 384-0438.

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