Radio Chavura
Allies In Isolation: Israel's Unique Friendship with the Federated States of Micronesia

This week on Radio Chavura, we feature an exclusive interview with His Excellency Asterio Takesy, Micronesia’s Ambassador to the United States and Israel.

Micronesia, an international exporter of fish, bananas, and black peppers, is not known for much in the western world except as the periodic answer to an obscure question on Jeopardy.

Yet when Israel is under fire at the United Nations – and when isn’t Israel under fire at the UN? – the Federated States of Micronesia has proven to be one of the Jewish State’s staunchest global allies.

Only the United States, Canada, the Marshall Islands and Palau stand shoulder-to-should with the FSM in defense of Israel when the UN is singling out the Jewish State for rote condemnation.  The track records of other “allies” – including France, England, Germany, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, and all of Central, South and Latin America are nowhere near as pro-Israel as Micronesia’s.

Ambassador Takesy is interviewed by Radio Chavura co-hosts Maxwell and Dean Rotbart.

Direct download: 111314_RC_Micronesia.mp3
Category:National Edition -- posted at: 10:10am MDT

Preparing for the High Holidays 5775:  "A Time to Refocus"

Rabbi Daniel Rapp, whose permanent home is in New York, might be dubbed the "Commuter Rabbi," because he regularly shuttles between Manhattan and Denver in order to serve and enrich our community in his capacity as the Interim Rabbi at East Denver Orthodox Synagogue.

Rabbi Rapp and his family were in Denver for much of this past summer and will return again soon so that he can help lead Yom Kippur services at EDOS.

Rabbi Rapp is a recognized Torah scholar and a Dayan (judge) at the Beth Din of America.  His impressive credentials include serving as Associate Dean of Students of Undergraduate Torah Studies at Yeshiva University, where he is a visiting professor of Talmud.  Rabbi Rapp received his juris doctor from the Columbia University School of Law, where he was twice honored for academic excellence.

In mid-August, shortly before he returned to New York, Rabbi Rapp sat with Radio Chavura co-host Dean Rotbart at The Jewish Experience Center to share his thoughts on how the Jewish community can prepare for the High Holidays this year.  The interview was not originally intended for broadcast and thus was not recorded in our regular radio studio.  (Which explains the music, voices and noise in the background.)

"There is a spiritual gravity out there.  If you're not pushing up, you're sinking down."

But the Rabbi's insights were so on target and valuable, we thought it best to let our readers and listeners hear what he had to say directly.


Our pre-Rosh Hashanah interview with Rabbi Rapp is the second in our series of 5775 conversations with prominent Colorado spiritual leaders on the topic of High Holidays preparations.

Direct download: 091414_RadioChavura_Rabbi_Daniel_Rapp.mp3
Category:High Holiday Specials -- posted at: 12:13pm MDT

Preparing for the High Holidays - Rabbi Evette Lutman, B'nai Havurah

Beginning this week exclusively on Radio Chavura, we launch our annual series on preparing for the High Holidays.

This year we are proud to feature another prominent group of Colorado spiritual leaders, starting with Rabbi Evette Lutman, the spiritual leader of B’nai Havurah, the Denver Reconstructionist Congregation that serves more than 240 households.

B’nai Havurah is an egalitarian and participatory community, open to multiple perspectives and forms of religious expression.

Rabbi Lutman, who is affectionately called “Rabbi Evette” by her congregants, was hired in July 2010 upon her rabbinic ordination for the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, PA.  She has a law degree from Ohio State University.

Our interview with Rabbi Lutman was conducted in June 2014, just prior to her departure for Israel.  The rabbi is passionate about Israel and urges her congregants to visit and stay engaged.

Rabbi Lutman discusses her personal and congregational preparations for the High Holidays, which begin this year on Wednesday evening, September 24th.  

In future segments, we’ll feature Rabbi Daniel Rapp, visiting professor of Talmud and Associate Dean of Students at Yeshiva University (East Denver Orthodox Synagogue); Rabbi Raphael Leban, The Jewish Experience; and Rabbi Brian Field, Judaism Your Way.

Although the rabbis represent a variety of approaches and Jewish denominations, each rabbi shares insights certain to make 5775 relevant and inspirational. 

Fresh episodes of Radio Chavura are available on Sunday evenings at 6:30 pm at as well as from the iTunes store.

The program is hosted and produced by Maxwell and Dean Rotbart.

Direct download: 090114_RadioChavura_Rabbi_Evette_Lutman.mp3
Category:Synagogues -- posted at: 1:05pm MDT

Jewish Family Service of Colorado Showcases the Best of the Jewish People

This week on Radio Chavura, we speak with Yana Vishnitsky, president and CEO of Jewish Family Service of Colorado, about the important role that JFS plays in our community.

As an immigrant, Yana, herself, has a special connection to JFS, which she explains during our interview.

Begun in 1872 as the Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Society, today JFS of Colorado directly serves 23,000 Coloradans annually – both Jews and non-Jews.

Working with the elderly (in-home meals and cleaning); mentally endangered (kids with difficult home lives and adults suffering from depression); special needs (people with Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injuries and others who cannot live independently); and impoverished members of our society (unable to afford sufficient food, rent, and medical care), JFS provides care based on the Jewish values of repairing the world and engaging in acts of loving kindness.

JFS’s much lauded Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Food Pantry provides meals for 1,600 people each month; that’s in addition to the 3,200 nutritious meals that JFS’s Lunchbox Express program delivers weekly to children when school is not in session.

With 850 volunteers and a dedicated staff headed by Yana, Jewish Family Service of Colorado showcases the best of the Jewish people.

Direct download: 072014_RadioChavura_JFS_YanaVishnitsky.mp3
Category:Community Groups -- posted at: 4:24pm MDT

Jewish Values Make For Great Business Values - Safe Systems' Larry Halpern

Larry and Cindy Halpern have built their company, Safe Systems, Inc., into Colorado's largest locally owned security provider by following a Jewish-inspired philosophy of treating customers like members of the family.

Safe Systems, which began in 1982, faithfully serves more than 10,000 residential and business customers in Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder, Ft. Collins, and all along the Front Range.


Larry is the featured guest this week on both Radio Chavura and on 710 KNUS AM's weekly Business Unconventional broadcast.  Joining Larry is Tim Watson, director of sales and marketing.

Larry's joint appearance on the two audio programs arises because the story of Safe Systems's phenomenal success is one of interest to both the Jewish community - where Larry and Cindy have long been supportive of many fine nonprofit programs and institutions - and to the secular community, which admires his company's growth, service record and remarkable hiring practices.

Indeed, Larry tells Dean Rotbart, co-host of both Radio Chavura and Business Unconventional, that the secret to Safe Systems's growth has been the quality of employees the company has hired and retained.  Today, Safe Systems employs more than 70 workers who share Larry and Cindy's mission: "to ensure your family or business's on-going safety with the most advanced, custom-designed security systems."

Whether you are a member of the Jewish community who knows Larry and Cindy and appreciates all that they've done; whether you're a homeowner or business professional who might benefit from the great services provided by Safe Systems; or whether you're an owner or entrepreneur who hopes to glean some success insights from Larry, you won't want to miss this insightful interview.

Business Unconventional, featuring Dean Rotbart and co-host David Biondo, airs each Sunday from 8 am to 9 am on 710 KNUS AM, and is also simulcast on the Internet at

Direct download: 060114_BUnRadio_Segment-2_SafeSystems.mp3
Category:Community Leaders -- posted at: 10:48am MDT

Exclusive Interview with Marcie Natan - National President of Hadassah


On this week's edition, we speak with Marcie Natan, the national president of Hadassah: The Zionist Women's Organization of America, about how the 102-year-old organization continues to attract a devoted following - despite the changing times.

The answer - which is well-worth listening to - is that Hadassah has remained true to its pro-Israel and social action values, which traverse generational differences. Indeed, Hadassah is the world's flagship Zionist organization and a prime example of how Jewish medical innovation is saving the lives of Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Posted:  May 4, 2014
Duration: 56 min 39 secs
Photo:  Marcie Natan, Hadassah

Direct download: 050414_RadioChavura_Marcie_Natan_Hadassah.mp3
Category:National Edition -- posted at: 9:43pm MDT

Thinking Beyond The Four Questions - A Conversation With Ari Hoffman


Denver psychotherapist and wilderness guide Ari Hoffman believes that the four traditional questions asked during the Passover Seder are just the beginning of the questions that we should be asking ourselves.

Indeed, Ari explains in this compelling discussion, the Exodus story can teach all of us something about human nature, overcoming adversity, and internal growth. But - before we can get to that point, we must ask the question:

"What do I want to be free from this year?"

To speak with Ari Hoffman about his therapy sessions - which are designed to help families, couples, and individuals escape their proverbial Egypts and traverse the desert towards Israel - call him at 303-803-4832. Listen to our complete interview with him here.

Direct download: 041314_RadioChavura_AriHoffman.mp3
Category:Community Leaders -- posted at: 10:46am MDT

 Paula's Window: Papa, the Bielski Partisans, and A Life Unexpected

By Paula Burger (As told to Andrea Jacobs) 


Paula's Window on Amazon
Paula Burger was only a child when she and her younger brother, Denver's beloved Cantor Isaac Koll, survived the Holocaust with the Bielski partisans. 
Now Paula, an accomplished painter and grandmother, has written an account of her harrowing childhood experiences and the heroic efforts of her father, Wolf Koladicki (z'l), to protect his children under the most trying of circumstances.  On this week's edition of Radio Chavura, Paula explains her reasoning for writing with book and the lessons it provides.  


Writes Robert Bielski in the foreword to the book: "Paula's story brings the pain and suffering of her experience to the forefront so that her family, students and all generations to come will learn of the evil brutality that Paula, her brother Isaac and her father Wolf endured."


[Note: Those who read Paula's Window will immediately recognize the skilled and moving writing of Andrea Jacobs, the senior writer at the Intermountain Jewish News.  For 2 1/2 years, Andrea meet weekly with Paula to capture and relay Paula's experiences.  Andrea "possesses a rare and beautiful gift - a heart that hears," Paula writes in the book's acknowledgements.  "Without her talent, dedication, sensitivity and compassion, this book would not exist."


Paula will be featured at a BMH-BJ luncheon on Sunday, June 8th.  Come hear her speak and purchase a signed copy of her book.  


Direct download: 040614_RadioChavura_PaulaBurger.mp3
Category:Holocaust Topics -- posted at: 10:22am MDT

The Jewish Ethics of Public Relations - Denver Community Kollel

Hear the unedited audio from the April 2, 2014 Torah 4 Tycoons business ethics lunch and learn series, presented by the Denver Community Kollel.

The topic was, "In the Eye of the Beholders: The Ethics of Public Relations." The panel was moderated by Daniel Woodrow and featured Rabbi Mordechai Fleisher, senior lecturer, Denver Community Kollel; and Dean Rotbart, co-host of Radio Chavura and Business Unconventional (710 KNUS AM in Denver).

The questions discussed included:

  • Is it okay to present a front that may be misleading?
  • What are the ehtics of making contributions to make an impression of generosity when ulterior motives are the driving force behind them?
  • Does the Toray actually obligate one to put on a good face for the general public?
  • How far does Halacha expect one to go to avoid suspicion of wrongdoing even when nothing has been perpetrated?

Radio Chavura is proud to be a supporter of the Denver Community Kollel.

Photo (clockwise):  Actor, Ron Moody who played "Fagin" in the 1968 movie, "Oliver;" presenters Dean Rotbart and Rabbi Mordechai Fleisher; Fagin; participants in the Torah 4 Tycoons luncheon on April 2nd.  

Direct download: 040214_Denver_Community_Kollel_PR_Ethics.mp3
Category:Denver Community Kollel -- posted at: 9:08pm MDT

Flashback: Exclusive Interview with Esther Pollard - November 2006

In November 2006, Radio Chavura co-host Dean Rotbart conducted a broadcast interview with Esther Pollard, wife of Jonathan Pollard, the former American naval intelligence analyst who pled guilty to passing classied secrets to Israel and has been in prison since 1985.

Joining Dean was Dr. Donald Salem, a respected Los Angeles dentist and an expert on the Pollard case and Israel advocacy.

While Pollard's action were illegal, the program highlights the inequity of his extended jail sentence and the duplicity of American politicians and citizens who argue for Pollard's continued incarceration.

Mrs. Pollard was interviewed for Israel This Week, a precusor to Radio Chavura.  The program was broadcast live in 2006 on Sunday nights in Los Angeles on 870 KRLA AM, a leading news/talk station.

Although Radio Chavura co-host Maxwell Rotbart was not featured on air, he was a behind-the-scenes producer for the program.

Sim Shalom, the opening and closing song on Israel This Week, was peformed by Talya Rotbart.

For more information on Jonathan Pollard and the facts of his case, visit:

Direct download: Israel_This_Week_Esther_Pollard.mp3
Category:Israel This Week -- posted at: 7:58pm MDT