Steamboat’s first full-time rabbi settling into new role |

Steamboat’s first full-time rabbi settling into new role

While music has been a big part of Kolby Morris-Dahary's, she said spiritual leadership is her true calling and sees music as a vessel for making connections as a rabbi.
Judaism Your Way/Courtesy photo

Steamboat Springs never had a full-time rabbi, but last week, Kolby Morris-Dahary stepped in as the first full-time solo Rabbi of Har Mishpacha. She, her husband and their two kids moved into a home in Oak Creek earlier this month.

Translated as “Mountain Family,” Har Mishpacha is a non-denominational Jewish congregation with over 70 member families. They meet at the Heart of Steamboat on Oak Street, a building shared with Methodist, Buddhist, and Muslim faiths.

Conditions are ripe for Har Mishpacha’s congregation to grow as more people from the cities have been relocating to Steamboat, particularly since the pandemic and the proliferation of remote work. Members of the congregation also hope a full-time rabbi will encourage Jewish people in Steamboat and the surrounding areas who haven’t been actively attending services to become more involved.

“We’re hoping they come out of the woodwork now that we have a full-time rabbi,” said Susan Handloff, a Steamboat local and member of Har Mishpacha.

Morris-Dahary said she’s already seen indications that her presence is stirring curiosity and engagement.

“There’s a certain buzz at least in the Jewish community here,” Morris-Dahary said. “Every service that I’ve led so far there’s a handful of new people.”

Rabbi Morris-Dahary leads services on the evening of Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Morris-Hahary hopes to instill deeper religious connections by empowering interpersonal relationships in the community.
Noam Dahary/Courtesy photo

Prior to Morris-Dahary’s arrival, an ordained rabbi was typically available only once a month, and lifecycle events – funerals especially – were sometimes difficult for the Jewish community to schedule and administer without a rabbi that was on-call.

As a student Rabbi with Judaism Your Way in Denver, Morris-Dahary officiated many lifecycle events such as interfaith weddings, something she says she’s passionate about. 

Raised in an interfaith family, Morris-Dahary initially sought a career in the music industry in the footsteps of her father, a music promoter. She also had aspirations in the field of outdoor education, but eventually found her calling in spiritual leadership.

“Going to a concert is the ultimate way of building community in a matter of seconds,” Morris-Dahary said.

Morris-Dahary earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal music with an emphasis in ethnomusicology, a discipline that examines the social power and cultural perspective of music.

She then earned a master’s degree in Jewish Thought at the University of Haifa in Israel where she lived for five years. Her husband, Noam Dahary, grew up in Israel and promotes Jewish life on college campuses throughout the state of Colorado.

Morris-Dahary writes music herself and plays guitar. Her name in Hebrew means “the voice in me.” 

“I think most Jewish services are a bit more musical than people might expect,” Morris-Dahary said.

Morris-Dahary was ordained through the Jewish Renewal movement which, according to the Jewish Renewal Alliance, is considered “an attitude, not a denomination.” At the heart of the Renewal Movement is the idea that one can deepen their connection with God through unpacking the holy potential present in every moment, person and spiritual tradition.

Among the younger generations especially, Morris-Dahary said people have been feeling more engaged with their faiths through interpersonal connections than through religious infrastructure, and she hopes to provide those sorts of connections to the community.

Morris-Dahary expects to be busy during the upcoming Jewish High Holidays starting in September with Rosh Hashanah, followed by Yom Kippur in October.

Though she’s only been here for a little over a week, Morris-Dahary said she and her family have been falling in love with their new home.

“Everybody’s been so nice and welcoming,” Morris-Dahary said. “We just keep pinching ourselves wondering if it’s all a dream we’re going to wake up from.”

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