Durango Connect moves to avoid holiday

Human-chain event now set for Sept. 27

Erica Max was talking up Durango Connect with her mother-in-law when Phyllis Max went to her calendar to write a reminder to participate in the seven-mile-long human chain on the Animas River Trail.

That was when the Maxes realized the Sept. 26 event coincided with Yom Kippur, the holiest and most solemn day on the Jewish calendar.

The timing would have excluded the local Jewish population from an event intended to celebrate community unity.

Durango Connect “is about bringing people together; that was why I thought I needed to make somebody aware of the fact that it’s Yom Kippur,” Erica Max said.

“It is the Jewish holiday,” Max said. “You could have scheduled it on any other Jewish holiday and you would have been fine, but Yom Kippur? No.”

Sandy Koufax, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hall of Fame pitcher, refused to play in the first game of the 1965 World Series because it was Yom Kippur.

Jack Turner, organizer of the event, quickly agreed to move the event to Sept. 27.

“It was a complete oversight,” Turner said. “We don’t want anybody to be kept out.”

He said he “was proud of everybody for stepping up” to make the change. The event stays essentially the same except that it will be just a day later.

Going by just the membership of Congregation Har Shalom, perhaps 70 families or so would have been excluded from Durango Connect, but Max estimated there are many more Jews in the community who don’t belong to the congregation.

Because of the recent shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, Max said, “We need to be teaching our kids religious respect and religious tolerance.”

So she said she appreciates that “Durango is such a town that promotes tolerance. It’s fabulous that they changed it. I think it’s a wonderful story about our town.”

On the morning of Sept. 27, when the community comes together to hold hands on the river trail, Max said she is “certainly hoping the Jewish community will be out there in strength.”


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