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After Boulder fires, Jewish Coloradoans turned out to help — and received it in turn

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JTA — As Alan Halpern prepared to retire from his role as the executive director of Boulder’s Congregation Har Hashem, he made a list of 100 things to do with his newfound free time. He didn’t expect that first on the list would be helping his neighborhood recover from the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history.

In Halpern’s Louisville, Colorado, neighborhood of 140 houses, only three homes remain intact following the Marshall fire, which surged across 6,219 acres starting December 30 and burned more than 1,000 homes in a fast-moving, unusual suburban conflagration.

Halpern and his wife Julie were safely in their car when they received a formal evacuation notice. But their house burned to the ground, taking with it cherished children’s baby books, the dress Halpern’s mother wore to their wedding and handwritten family recipes.

“Never on my retirement list was rebuilding the house and spending a lot of time with the insurance company,” Halpern told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “There are all of those things that we take for granted in our daily lives that you lose, not only because you’ve lost where you live, and all of the stuff that belongs to you, but because now there are demands on your time to put all that stuff back together.”

Boulder’s Jewish community’s response to the fire was immediate and substantial. JEWISHColorado, the state’s Jewish largest Jewish group, launched an emergency fund the morning following the fire, raising $500,000 from over 2,700 donors across the world.

The Boulder JCC opened its doors to those in need of a shower or workspace, and set up a cooking program with local food organizations. In conjunction with Jewish Family Service of Colorado, the organizations have provided over 130 gift cards and 45 computers to families in need.

“Where we’re able to direct our dollars is emergency funding helping people take those first one, two or three steps forward,” said JEWISHColorado President and CEO Rabbi Jay Strear. “Sometimes it’s for small items like new........

© The Times of Israel

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