IJSS and SaddleBrooke Ranch

Gerri Koen

Mike and I would like to tell you about the Institute for Judaic Services and Studies (IJSS) in SaddleBrooke. We meet monthly from September through April, at SaddleBrooke, MountainView Clubhouse. Due to COVID restrictions, currently services are on Zoom. The IJSS hopes to resume in-person services by Rosh Hashanah.

My husband and I have been members for the past 12 1/2 years. During this time, we have been attending Shabbat and High Holiday services on a regular basis. The services are led by a rabbi, along with a cantorial soloist and piano accompaniment. We have found that these Reform services are very satisfying and fulfilling. Maintaining our spirituality is very important to us. Friday night Shabbat services are held once per month, breaking during the summer months. High Holy Day services are conducted.

Singing together as a congregation is wonderful, for me especially since I am tone deaf and no one says, “just mouth the words”. Our Cantorial Soloist, Sarah Bolt, accompanied by Chris Tackett on the piano adds so very much to the services.

In a non-COVID world, services begin with an optional dinner at the MountainView Restaurant in a private room. This sets the tone for the evening. We break bread together as we say the HaMotzi (blessing over the bread), drink the “wine,” and sing some traditional songs. Afterward we go into our “Sanctuary” to begin the Shabbat Service. The Rabbi and Cantorial Soloist start by lighting Shabbat candles. We have the opportunity to share names for the Misheberach (blessing for the sick) and recite the Mourners Kaddish.

This coming Rosh Hashanah we will welcome our new Rabbi, Laura Harari. High Holiday Services traditionally include the members of the congregation. We have been honored with Aliyah (blessing and reading of the Torah), as have other members. It would be really nice if there were other residents from the Ranch who could join us by attending services at the Jewish Institute.

We’d love to hear from you. Call us, Mike and Gerri Koen at 520-615-8115 so we can share our experiences with you. You can also contact the current chairperson, Joan Elder, at [email protected] or by phone at 520-360-1478. She would love to talk to you!

Hopefully, you’ll choose to share High Holiday Services with us.