For Rabbi Boaz Heilman, Judaism is a 3,000 year old religion, but it’s also relevant to modern concerns - and he’s eager to show how. Heilman took over leadership of the Westminster’s …
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For Rabbi Boaz Heilman, Judaism is a 3,000 year old religion, but it’s also relevant to modern concerns - and he’s eager to show how.
Heilman took over leadership of the Westminster’s Congregation B’Nai Torah in August, replacing former Rabbi Anat Moskowitz. He was officially installed as the congregation’s rabbi at a ceremony on Nov. 9.
“I’m here to be a guide in tradition as well as in adapting our ancient traditions to modern times and life in Colorado in 2019,” Heilman said. “I’m here to teach them about our sources and resources and celebrate and help them during times of sorrow. Those are basic tenets as my calling as rabbi.”
There’s a lot for Colorado’s Jews to think about, he said.
“We have a very ancient tradition, at least three millennia, and some of the laws and commandments go back that far,” he said. “But people need to adapt and change to modern times.”
He hopes to make those ancient teaching and rules relevant to today.
“Teaching the Torah is one of my favorite things to do, and that’s what I’ll be doing a lot of,” he said. “I want to bring our resources and sources into our daily lives so they inform our lives as Jews in America. We are both Jews and Americans and we need to learn how live as Jews in America in the 21st century.”
Heilman was born in Israel and moved to the United States with his family in 1961. Heilman trained in classical music and piano and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1971 and an Artist Diploma in piano performance 1973, both from Southern Methodist University.
After graduating, he returned to Israel to pursue a career in music. He performed around Israel and elsewhere and made several recordings for the Israel Broadcasting Authority while also serving as a medic in the Israel Defense Force.
He returned to the U.S. in 1977 to continue his musical studies, earning a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1979.
He’s served as leader at two congregations before moving to Westminster. He served as Rabbi at another Congregation B’nai Torah in Sudbury, Mass. from 1995 to 2015.
“I served there for 20 years, retired and finally decided that retirement wasn’t for me,” he said,
He took on a part-time rabbi position in Laconia, N.H.’s Temple B’nai Israel until 2019.
He’s married, with two grown children, Hannah and Jonathan. His son, who lives in the area, asked for his parents to relocate out west.
“By providence, my wife found her calling here and I found mine,” he said. “It all seemed to line up pretty well.”
His wife, Rabbi Sally Finestone, is serving as the rabbi at Fort Collins Temple Har Shalom. They currently live in Fort Collins.
In addition to his music, Heilman also said he enjoys photography and hiking. He’s already explored some trails in the area and I looking forward to exploring more.
“One of my favorites is the Poudre Canyon, right outside of Fort Collins,” he said. “It’s so peaceful and beautiful and a relatively easy hike.
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