This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

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 info@pardeslevavot.org. 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!

Jewish, Muslim congregations exploring common threads

By Eric Gorski
Denver Post Staff Writer

Boulder - For a service celebrating the second day of the Jewish New Year, it was an unusual choice of music: a Sufi Muslim chant with lyrics in Hebrew and Arabic:

"Allah Hu Allah la illah ha il Allah Elohim Echad Elohim Gadol"

Roughly translated, Jews and Muslims could agree on this one critical point: There is one God, and he is great.

This scene last week at Boulder's Pardes Levavot, a Jewish Renewal congregation, recognized an unusual convergence: For the first time in 33 years, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish High Holy Days have collided on the calendar. A Philadelphia rabbi, Arthur Waskow, is promoting it as "God's October Surprise," an opportunity to find peace and reconciliation.

In Boulder, there was one hitch: The Muslim imam who had promised to attend canceled at the last minute because his newborn was ill, and none of his congregants showed.

The notion of bringing together people of two faiths often at odds remains a challenge. But in Colorado, much progress has been made, including through new dialogue groups exploring common threads, members of both communities say.

For example, St. John's Episcopal Cathedral last year launched the Abrahamic Initiative, which seeks to build bridges between Jews, Christians and Muslims.



The congregation of Pardes Levavot celebrates the Jewish New Year at a service last week in Boulder. The rabbis, nearest to the table with the covered Torah, are, from left, Nadya Gross, Leah Novick and Victor Gross. (Photo by Lyn Alweis)


In speaking to her congregation on the second day of Rosh Hashana, Rabbi Nadya Gross of Pardes Levavot made it clear that praying together does not mean compromising beliefs. She compared it to an orchestra, in which the individual players don't lose their own melodies.

The lesson that morning centered on a story in the Torah in which God calls Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Gross pointed out that a similar story plays out in the Koran, the Muslim holy book, only the son whose life is at stake is Ishmael.

"If we have stories that parallel, it's not about whose story was right or whose son was the right son, but the deeper message embedded in the stories: faith and surrender and the will of God," she said.

Such experiments are more likely to find an audience in Jewish Renewal, a relatively small movement that grew out of 1960s counterculture and advocates peace, gender equality and environmental stewardship.

But even at Pardes Levavot, bridge-building hits roadblocks. Gross said some members, with memories of anti-Semitism still burning, initially felt uncomfortable sharing worship space with a Lutheran church.

Muslims and Jews share many of the same prophets, a belief in monotheism and a history that includes mutual respect. During Spain's Golden Age, for instance, Muslim and Jews flourished together. But many Jews and Muslims might look askance at talking about common ground if legitimate differences and divides are papered over. How can a meaningful relationship develop, for example, without acknowledging divides over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Gale Kahn, director of the American Jewish Committee's Colorado chapter, said relationships need to be forged before delving into differences.

"If there's trust between the groups and an understanding of what the mission is to accomplish, I think you can have very successful dialogue," Kahn said. "But you also have to have a purpose: Is it political? Is it social?"

For Muslim immigrants, building relations with Jews in their home countries was not an issue because there were so few Jews back home, said Liyakat Takim, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

"But now, suddenly, Muslims are in the minority," said Takim, who has spoken to several synagogues about Islam. "When you are in the minority, the need to reach out and explain yourself is even greater. Things have changed since 9/11 in general because Muslims have realized they can no longer afford to live in fortresses, that they need to reach out and project a more positive image of Islam."

At Pardes Levavot, another attempt at realizing God's October Surprise will unfold tonight. The hope is that Jews breaking their Yom Kippur fast will be joined by Muslims breaking their daily Ramadan fast.

Staff writer Eric Gorski can be reached at 303-820-1698 or egorski@denverpost.com.

About the holidays

Jewish High Holy Days: Began last week with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, began at sundown Wednesday and ends tonight with a breaking of the fast. Many Jews refrain from working and spend the day fasting and praying, starting the new year with a clear conscience.

Ramadan: The Muslim holy month began last week with the sighting of the crescent moon. A time of fasting, sacrifice, worship and contemplation, Ramadan is meant to lead Muslims toward greater intimacy with God, spotlight the plight of the poor and hungry, and strengthen family and community.