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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 from The Daily Camera, October 1, 2005

An interfaith surprise

People of many faiths will find reason to observe traditions this month

By Cindy Sutter, Camera Staff Writer
October 1, 2005

Some are calling it "God's October Surprise."

Today marks the beginning of a month in which sacred events in the calendars of several religious traditions occur at the same time. In the Jewish tradition, the lunar month of Tishrei, which includes the High Holy Days begins Monday and Tuesday, as does the lunar month of Ramadan, the holiest period of the Islamic Year.

For Christians, Sunday is World Communion Sunday, and Tuesday is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. For Hindus, Tuesday begins Navarathi, nine nights of spiritual struggle, which culminates in Vijayadashami, the 10th day of spiritual victory. For Buddhists, Vassa, the rainy season of spiritual reflection ends on Oct. 18, with the day of the full moon, Pavarana.

In Boulder, a Jewish Renewal Congregation, Pardes Levavot, will be marking the High Holy Days with traditional services and with an interfaith service on the second day of Rosh Hashana on Wednesday. The service will include Christians from Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, with which Pardes Levavot shares space, and Imam Ibrahim Kazerooni of Denver and several Muslim families.

"We felt very strongly that this was an opportune time to bring together people of different religions to begin to search for that which unites us," says Rabbi Victor Gross, who with his wife, Rabbi Nadya, leads Pardes Levavot.

Photo by Jonathan Castner
Left to right, Rabbi Nadya Gross and Danya Underwood sing a Jewish chant to open the Selichot at Pardes Levavot in Gunbarrel on Sept. 24.

The interfaith service is an outgrowth of the Jewish Renewal tradition of what founder Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi calls "deep ecumenism," a call from Jewish Renewal's rabbinic organization to acknowledge the confluence of sacred moments, and of the growing relationship between Pardes Levavot and Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church.

The two Boulder congregations have shared space since January 2004, and as time has passed, the ties between the Grosses and Pastors Linda and Larry Daniels-Block have deepened, along with the shared experiences of their respective congregations.

"We're grateful that we had seeds planted here in our community and the congregation of Shepherd of the Hills," says Nadya Gross. "Then came this call to wake up and open the large arms we've been wanting to embrace even more."

Last month on Sept. 11, the two held an interfaith service at which Schacter-Shalomi spoke, and on Sept. 24 an Erev Selichot service — Selichot means prayers for forgiveness — included Hebrew, Gregorian, Sanskrit and Sufi chants. The service was part of the preparation for Rosh Hashana or the Jewish New Year, which begins at sundown on Monday.

Photo by Jonathan Castner
Left to right, Ariel Guerreso and Shayah Sallo beat out the rhythms to the chants during the Selichot at Pardes Levavot in Gunbarrel on Sept. 24.

The High Holy Days, which begin with Rosh Hashana or the Jewish New Year, are a deeply reflective time in which Jews examine their relationships with other human beings and with God, and attempt to right past wrongs and ask forgiveness for wrongs they have committed both intentional and unintentional. They culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which falls on Oct. 13 this year. The interfaith service will emphasize some of the common elements among the traditions.

"The month of Ramadan ... shares some of the same themes of introspection and self-examination," Victor Gross says. "(We will) experience prayers together from each of the faiths, which focus on the ideas of repentance and hope. Then we can begin to explore the sacred myths that touch upon each other."

The Grosses met Kazerooni at an event to gather religious leaders together after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"We met him and recognized in him a kindred spirit," Nadya Gross says. "He was immediately responsive and very excited."

Kazerooni says it is important for different faiths to learn to come together.

"Waiting and doing nothing and expecting that some kind of harmonious society would be created ... I don't think that is a realistic proposition," he says. "We really have to work and struggle and ask for God's blessing through that struggle."

Victor Gross says in some ways it's easy for Jews to identify with the experiences of American Muslims.

"This whole notion of profiling. We Jews, in history, we know exactly what that experience is all about," he says. "For us to not join with them in combating that practice would give a lie to what our own experience has been historically. We understand the sense of not belonging of not being engaged in the American community."

However, another part of coming together is recognizing and respecting profound differences in belief and experience, the Grosses says.

"We are gathering to learn together," Victor Gross says. "To study together, to understand each other's great myths and the tenets of our faith."

As relationship between Pardes Levavot and Shepherd of the Hills has deepened, both the pastors and the rabbis have noticed a perhaps surprising thing: As they have gotten to know the other congregation's beliefs, their experience of their own tradition has been enriched.

"We are finding that when we worship together our joy in God is expanded and our worship becomes more full and rich and challenging," says Pastor Linda Daniels-Block. "There is always an element of surprise for I think both traditions. It feels like God is doing a greater thing among us. ... We have this deep sense that God is leading us forward, rather than that we are being so creative and groundbreaking. We find ourselves being together."

Kazerooni says interfaith work must be much more than just establishing contact.

"We should take that further in that we become active in creating a civil society that respects these differences."

Victor Gross agrees.

"Over time, we have to address more challenging issues, the wounds we carry," he says. "That can only happen if we begin to develop trust. We fully hope and trust that that's going to happen."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Cindy Sutter at (303) 473-1335 or