By Intermountain Jewish News Staff
When the northern Douglas County suburb of Highlands Ranch was established just over three decades ago, it grew like wildfire. Before we knew it, this masterplan community had an elaborate system of neighborhoods, schools, businesses, a hospital — nearly every amenity a community could want.
Among those flocking to Highlands Ranch were Jews — a lot of Jews, mostly unaffiliated. The organized Jewish community in Denver tried to reach these hundreds of unaffiliated Jewish families, with little success. Then, in 2004, along came Rabbi Avraham and Hindy Mintz, a young Chabad couple with the idea of starting a Jewish center in northern Douglas County.
Rabbi Mintz was the second of three intrepid Mintz brothers to venture out to Colorado to create Jewish communities in underserved areas. The first brother, Rabbi Mendel Mintz has developed an devoted following in Aspen and Rabbi Dovid Mintz has done the same in Vail.
Like his brothers, Rabbi Avraham Mintz and his wife Hindy have an incredible sense of how to provide “invisible” Jews with what they may not even realize they want. The Mintzes love each and every fellow Jew regardless of background and level of observance. No judgments. No expectations. Just role modeling and openness.
Once the word got out that such a place — and such a couple — existed in a rented storefront, Jews in Highlands Ranch, Lone Tree, Parker and other nearby suburbs started coming out of the wordwork. Before they knew it, the Mintzes’ dream of spreading Yiddishkeit to those who had been removed from it was coming true.
In 2009, five years after the Mintzes came to Denver, they had outgrown the storefront and were able to build Douglas County’s first synagogue, the Chabad Jewish Center of South Metro Denver. More than a synagogue, this center on Lone Tree Parkway has become a hub of activity, providing Rabbi and Mrs. Mintz the opportunity to move full-steam ahead with their ambitious programming ideas.
Hindy Mintz runs the Garden Preschool. Imagine that — a Jewish preschool in Douglas County — and it’s certified as “Eco Healthy.”
A compassionate program is The Friendship Circle. It reaches out to disabled children by pairing them with able-bodied teens for fun activities and unconditional acceptance.
Add to these a Hebrew school, Shabbat and holiday services, adult education classes and women’s activities, not to mention Chabad’s famous outreach to shut-ins and prisoners, as well as mezuzzah-hanging and tefilin-wrapping, and you have a thriving Jewish community where one didn’t exist a decade ago.
Chabad Jewish Center of South Metro Denver celebrates its 10th anniversary this Sunday with a dinner and lecture. Rabbi Avraham and Hindy Mintz and their supporters deserve all the kudos coming their way, along with wishes for sustained success and heartfelt thanks for adding an important dimension to the Denver Jewish community.