According to Rabbi Mendel Mintz, everyone wants a place where they feel welcome. For this reason, Rabbi Mintz leads the Chabad Jewish Community Center in Aspen with an openness that encourages Jews of all backgrounds to keep coming back. Recently, A Gathering of Experts blog staff spoke with Mendel Mintz about the center, which is located in Aspen, Colorado.
A Gathering of Experts: We understand that Chabad welcomes all, Jews and non Jews alike. Is it challenging to provide programs for both?
Mendel Mintz: Not at all. At Chabad, we try hard to celebrate the history and heritage of Judaism, rather than focusing on one particular aspect or belief.
A Gathering of Experts: Your programs are rooted in the “Ahavet Yisrael” doctrine. How does this impact your programs?
Mendel Mintz: When translated, “Ahavet Yisrael” means love for a fellow Jew. We strive to welcome everyone and make them feel a part of our community.
A Gathering of Experts: How do you avoid alienating some who may believe differently than other members?
Mendel Mintz: Our goal is to focus on fulfilling our members’ spiritual needs by providing programs and services that celebrate the Jewish tradition.
A Gathering of Experts: But your programs aren’t focused solely on the past…
Mendel Mintz: No, we try to provide a balance of Jewish history and tradition with modern-day Jewish techniques to provide each member with a well-rounded perspective.
A Gathering of Experts: Do I have to be a member to attend one of your classes or participate in one of your programs?
Mendel Mintz: All are invited to attend one or all of our programs without joining.
A Gathering of Experts: Are most of your members Orthodox Jews?
Mendel Mintz: Actually, it’s the opposite. Most if not all of our members are not Orthodox.
A Gathering of Experts: If someone isn’t Orthodox, will the Chabad Community Center try to convert them?
Mendel Mintz: No. Our goal is mainly to educate and celebrate the Jewish faith. We accept everyone who wants to join in learning more about Judaism.
A Gathering of Experts: Do you try to label different Jews and put them into categories?
Mendel Mintz: We believe that we’re all Jews with no reason to put people into groups. Chabad believes that labeling puts walls between different groups.
A Gathering of Experts: According to your website, Chabad’s parent organization is the Chabad World Headquarters, located in New York. Is this where you get your funding?
Mendel Mintz: When it comes to funding, we’re independent, with funding coming from within the Aspen community. That funding stays in Aspen, helping improve and strengthen the Jewish community in the area.
A Gathering of Experts: One last question. Are women well respected at Chabad?
Mendel Mintz: Yes, we work hard to uplift women, believing women are an integral part of the Jewish family.
Rabbi Mendel Mintz lives in Colorado, where he is executive director of Chabad Community Center in Aspen. As Mendel Mintz explains, Chabad Community Center is located on Main Street. For more information, visit them online at jccaspen.com.