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Pardes Levavot

Pardes Levavot, “Orchard of Hearts,” was formed in the spirit of creating conscious holy community. Our name expresses the spiritual blossoming of each individual heart within an inspiring and nurturing orchard.

For information on our congregation please call (303) 563-2110 and leave a message or send email to To join our congregation, please print a copy of our membership form, fill it out, and send it to our Synagogue.

Pardes Levavot gratefully acknowledges Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado for their support of our Circle of Family Education program. Thank you!

Reprinted with kind permission from the The Daily Camera, July 24, 2004

A Faithful Friendship

Lutheran and Jewish congregations share space and fellowship

By Cindy Sutter, Camera Staff Writer
July 24, 2004

It was a matter of practicality in the beginning.

Rabbis Nadya and Victor Gross had been searching for a regular space for their Jewish Renewal congregation, Pardes Levavot, which had been formed in July of last year.

Pastors Larry and Linda Daniels-Block felt the space at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Gunbarrel was underutilized.

While various non-profits had met there over the years, the pastors wanted their church to serve the community in a larger, more meaningful way.

Jewish Renewal congregation, Pardes Levavot, shares space with the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Gunbarrel. Rabbi Nady Gross, center, sings a prayer with others from the congregation during a service July 17.

Photo by Cliff Grassmick

What happened next is described by Nadya and Linda in similar ways.

"It was like something that had been prepared, but nobody knew it yet," Nadya says.

"It was the fulfillment of something I was longing for all my life, but didn't know how to name it," Linda says.

The "it" was their agreement to share the physical space at Shepherd of the Hills, and as they and their congregants have discovered, something much more profound: a vision of community and a deepening of their respective faiths.

The Grosses had been careful in their search for space. Jewish congregations often rent space from churches. The services — Friday night and Saturday for Jews, and Sundays for Christians — make the arrangement a practical one. But theological differences can be a sticking point.

"In some congregations, there's an issue of proselytizing, trying to save us," Nadya says.

When they met with the Daniels-Blocks, they felt warmly welcomed and respected. The Daniels-Blocks gave them a tour, asking if they felt uncomfortable with any of the names of the rooms and pointing out that the cross was portable and could be moved out of the sanctuary for Shabbat.

"It took a while for it to register that they were talking about us sharing the whole space, not just renting," Nadya says.

The rabbis and pastors found strong similarities in their world views and in their experience. Their congregations were roughly similar in size, 100 households for Shepherd and 80 for Pardes Levavot. They were oriented toward community service. Both couples had served congregations together, and both women had risen in their faiths, just as opportunities had begun to open up for their genders.

"We walked into an immediate friendship," Nadya says. "In that first meeting, we started visioning, dreaming."

In May at a joint service, the space was dedicated as synagogue, and a mezuza was placed on the door.

"Victor was trying to place the mezuza," Linda says. "He handed the tools to Larry. A lot of people were crying at the beauty and the power of the moment."

The Grosses and Daniels-Blocks meet weekly. They try to hold the meeting to an hour, but often get caught up and end up talking for much longer.

"We can sense the presence of God in all four of us and we join hands and pray," Linda says.

The two congregations have held potlucks. The only problem there, Larry says wryly, is that Pardes Levavot members often bring vegetarian dishes.

"Lutherans like meat and Jell-O," he says.

The rabbis and pastors are considering question-and-answer sessions in the fall, so congregants can learn more about each other's faiths.

Shepherd of the Hills member Robert Schreier, 14, enlisted the help of both congregations for his Eagle Scout project, digging up old sod on a sloping piece of ground and planting 158 new plants. The renewed space will sometimes be used for outdoor worship.

"I felt the project was a spiritual bridge," he says. "We say prayers for them. They say prayers for us."

He also was intrigued by how the project was perceived by members of Pardes Levavot.

"I think it's really interesting to see what their beliefs are and how they apply them to everyday life," he says. "They really focus on the environmental part."

The project will be dedicated by both congregations on Aug. 8.

Both the Grosses and the Daniels-Blocks say their partnership has been much more than simply learning about each other's faiths. They have also learned about their own.

"We are finding the depths of our own humanity in others," Victor says. "There are those overarching values that seem to be driving the people in the church and in the synagogue. ... There's a growing sense that our own identity is being strengthened as we open to each other."

All say they are letting the relationship evolve naturally. Lay people in both congregations are hammering out the financial arrangements, since the congregations collect funds differently. Congregants are getting to know each other as they volunteer for various jobs that keep the facility running.

"We don't know the direction, but we trust what's happening," Larry says. "It's like being called by God in a new way. You don't know where it's going to take you. It feels really good to be on the journey.

Copyright 2004, The Daily Camera. All Rights Reserved.

Comments from around the world! Send your words of support to

Hi Victor and Nadya,

It was so touching, this morning, to open the paper and read about the sharing of your congregation and that of the Lutheran congregation at the church. Your spirit really came through in the article. In this time where there's so much division, it's very moving to know about real bridges and connections.

Love, Zoe Zimmermann, Boulder, CO