Members of the Telluride Jewish Community got together for the first time in two years at Andrea and Scott Brenner’s house for Shabbat Happy Hour recently. (Courtesy photo of Andrea Brenner)

After two years of communicating through newsletters, the Telluride Jewish Community (TJC) is back with a full schedule of in-person events. On July 8, Andrea Brenner and her husband Scott hosted a Shabbat Happy Hour and mini-service that included the lighting over Shabbat candles. Over 50 people attended and were spread throughout the Brenner's dining room, front porch and patio. Brenner said she was excited by how many people showed up to the event.

"It took us maybe 10 days to get an amazing turnout, which speaks very loudly to the desire to get together, and it was well received within the community," Brenner said.

TJC has a host of events and services planned for the year, including a happy hour on Aug. 19 and High Holiday services for Rosh Hashanah.

The idea to bring back in-person TJC gatherings happened while Brenner was in line to see "Top Gun: Maverick" at the Nugget Theater and bumped into TJC board member Adrienne Browning. Brenner suggested a Shabbat Happy Hour. Browning was on board, and 10 days later, they found themselves Chanting the Prayer over wine and Challah loaves and twists from Baked in Telluride. They also paid homage to Jerry Greene, who founded the bakery and passed away last year. After the successful July 8 event, more events were scheduled as a result of the chance encounter.

On Oct. 14, Browning and Bill Laffey will host Sukkot, which is the Jewish festival of harvest and agriculture. Sukkot also commemorates the 40 years the Israelites wandered the desert after escaping slavery in Egypt.

Michael Saftler has been the spiritual leader of TJC since its inception 47 years ago. It all started when someone approached Saftler to lead a Passover Seder. Saftler is excited for in-person events to be back, both on a social and spiritual level.

"Congregating, in general, is a good thing for people and their souls. For religious events, it's more heartwarming to be in the presence of people who are praying and sharing together," Saftler said.

He explained that in Judaism there is a tradition called a "minyan." Minyan is a type of public prayer that requires at least 10 people to pray together in person for one's prayers to be heard by God.

The High Holidays, which include Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, are especially significant to Saftler.

"And they are ones the community responds well to," he added.

Brenner said she looks forward to Shabbat dinner because it occurs every Friday, but she especially enjoys Hannukah and making potato latkes with all the kids.

There haven't been many challenges planning in-person meetings; however, one of Brenner’s main goals is to get the word out to the local Jewish community that TJC is "back" and “well” as the High Holidays are right around the corner. According to Brenner, most of the community is on board and ready to see one another face to face.

For decades, TJC has held services and events in various locations around the area, including the Sheridan or in the library. Compared to some of the other religious organizations in town, there is no set space or synagogue in the region.

"I think like with any religion where the congregation, community, philanthropy, generosity, gratitude and all of that is much more appreciated and enjoyed when it's three-dimensional versus two-dimensional," Brenner said.

Brenner explained they are always looking for host homes that can team up with multiple families and host a gathering, typically a potluck.

For more information, a list of events or to get involved, visit