On the Slopes and At Chabad: Peak Season

by R. Wineberg - ASPEN, CO

January 3, 2003

Most of Rabbi Mendel Mintz’s congregants at Chabad of Aspen are in town now. Which is a nice thing, especially since it’s so unusual. In a town like Aspen, where 50% of the homes are unoccupied for most of the year, population can swell from 5,000 to 30,000 in the space of a week. Peak season—December and January in the winter and several months in the summer—draws residents (who typically own houses in a variety of locations around the world) to their Colorado homes. Approximately 20% of homeowners in the Aspen Valley—a breathtakingly beautiful 40 mile stretch flanked by Aspen and Vail with several towns between—are Jewish, making for an unusually high Jewish demographic in the area during busy seasons, and an otherwise small core community in Aspen. The Mintzs, who moved out here three years ago, plan major Chabad events to coincide with peak seasons, and are busy the rest of the year addressing the needs of a transient Jewish population.

The only rabbi in this part of the state, Rabbi Mintz generates a good deal of enthusiasm among Jewish homeowners and tourists for the Jewish programs and events Chabad offers. The Rabbi, his wife Liba, and their two children live in the town of Aspen, where they operate Chabad activities from their home and rent the nearby St. Regis Hotel for larger activities. Every event draws a significant percentage of Jewish tourists, probably somewhere around 30%, says Liba Mintz, but although they come in and out, homeowners in Aspen make up much of the community around Chabad events and have been a “source of enthusiastic support since our arrival,” she says.

“People here have invested in their homes and are happy to invest in their community too,” Rabbi Mintz explains. With synagogue services, a Hebrew school, holiday programs, and a wide range of lectures and classes that go on throughout the year, Jewish visitors and residents can enjoy the best of both worlds.

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