Ski lifts, as a concept, don’t figure heavily into our typical conception of Jewish ritual. One wonders what would’ve been different had Moses had access to one when he was summiting Mt. Sinai, but that remains a hypothetical. For Rabbi David Levinsky, however, they’re central to a new outreach program.
Skiers hitting the slopes at Deer Valley, a resort outside Park City, Utah, have long been packing Deer Valley’s Sunset Cabin for Kabbalat Shabbat, the beginning of which is signaled by an Israeli flag placed on the outside of the cabin. But in the past few years, Levinsky says, his Reform synagogue—the appropriately named Temple Har Shalom, Hebrew for mountain of peace—has also been organizing social ski days for congregants, which have been tremendously popular. Extra dates have been added for this season.
“It’s just an opportunity,” Levinsky told The Salt Lake Tribune, “for people to get to know each other outside the synagogue.” The Jewish population of Park City has been steadily increasing over the last few years, due in part to some new converts. Consequently, Har Shalom has seen its membership jump 20 percent over the last decade or so.
Lest you think that the novelty of the ski-in shul is lost on the attendants, rest assured that Levinsky replaces an amidah prayer for “wind and rain” to one for “wind and snow.” Amen to that.