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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 Longmont Daily Times-Call, September 14, 2007.

Sounds of Hope

Teens lead musical worship at Renewal congregation

By Melanie M. Sidwell The Daily Times-Call

GUNBARREL - The musicians at Pardes Levavot, a Jewish Renewal congregation, have spent the past few weeks preparing the music for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, which began Sept. 12, and Yom Kippur on Sept. 21.

There was a minor problem at a recent afternoon rehearsal.

"Mom, I have to leave soon. I have to go to class," said 16-year-old Amitai Gross to his mother, Rabbi Nadya Gross, as rehearsal time hovered close to the start of his class at Front Range Community College in Longmont.

Amitai Gross joins Sam Yulsman, 17, and Eddie Nerney, 16, in leadership roles at the congregation, which shares space with a Lutheran church at 7077 Harvest Road.

"In this congregation, we are blessed to have young people who are incredibly talented musicians," said Nadya Gross. "To me, it's delightful they chose to freely devote a certain amount of time to support the prayer expression of this community. This is not performance for them; it's a sacred act."

Amitai Gross practices at Pardes Levavot for an upcoming service during the Jewish High Holy Days. Gross, 16, is one of three teens involved in leading the musical portion of the worship services.
Times-Call/Joshua Buck

At a time in their lives when teenagers tend to abandon religion, these three are continuing to build upon their spiritual foundation.

An article on the United Jewish Communities Web site stated that surveys have found that in Jewish denominations across the board, from Orthodox to Reform, participation by youth drops considerably as they grow older.

Nadya Gross said the congregation welcomes the skills of the three musically inclined teenagers.

"The adults love it," she said. "They are in awe that young people are making this choice. They have some parental pride in them. And the younger kids look up to them and see that this is a community that has a place for everyone. There is space for my gift here.

"The teens' years are weird, particularly when a teen is already spiritually inclined. They want to shut (their faith) down because it's 'weird,' and they don't want to be weird. Here, they can keep those channels open."

Rabbi Nadya Gross and Sam Yulsman, 17, rehearse for an upcoming service at Pardes Levavot, 7077 Harvest Road, Boulder.

Playing music in their congregation has a different draw for each of the three teens.

Eddie Nerney of rural Boulder is a New Vista High School sophomore.

His friendship with Amitai Gross through a Jewish youth club attracted him to helping with the music at Pardes Levavot, he said.

"I felt if (Amitai) is doing this, I can do this," Nerney said. "Then I can play music with him, help him here and be involved."

Amitai Gross is the third of four children, but he's the one most involved with the vocation of his parents, Nadya and Victor Gross, the rabbis at Pardes Levavot.

The Erie teen attends FRCC, and this is his third year assisting with the music at the congregation.

He's written melodies and plays the drums.

He began playing at the worship services, but the music "became my own type of prayer."

"I was practically in a trance," he said. "If you feel like your music is actually contributing to the prayer and to the church or synagogue, then that's a good thing. Sometimes when I'm drumming, it just gets in the way (of prayer), and so I'll just stop."

He also encouraged the music set be moved off the altar to the side of the sanctuary, so the focus is on the rabbi's message, not the musicians.

"As Sam says, 'You can't have a huge ego in music,'" said Amitai Gross.

Sam Yulsman, 17, is a junior at Niwot High School and is schooled in classical and jazz piano.

As an accomplished young artist, Yulsman - who recently returned from performing at the Vail Jazz Festival - said playing music for his congregation was a deep component of his faith.

"The reason I do this is very simple: to play music. It moves me," he said. "That's how I think of my spirituality."

Melanie M. Sidwell can be reached at 303-684-5274, or by e-mail at