Last weekend I documented a mountaintop celebration like no other. Nefesh Mountain, an old-timey Jewish bluegrass band, illuminated the mountains with their soulful music. They begged the audience to sing along as sounds of guitar, cello, and fiddle rang out. The seats were packed. And the people sang loud and even danced. It was amazing!

When my friends Seth and Michelle Levy asked me to photograph the Nefesh Mountain Bluegrass Shabbat on top of a mountain in Vail of course I said YES!!! And my friend Audrey was happy to join in on this road trip. Thank you Audrey for your enthusiasm and sense of adventure. I loved sharing this experience with you. We drove from Denver and met Seth and Michelle and their two beautiful girls at the B’nai Vail Congregation. The B’nai Vail Congregation put on a delicious breakfast in the quaint town of Vail, exactly like how you’d picture the setting in Scrooge (minus the snow). It was so great meeting the members of the congregation.

Then it was time to go up the mountain. This was a really fun experience. I captured the band members of Nefesh Mountain, husband and wife team Eric Lindberg and Doni Zasloff, string players Alan Grubner and Tim Kiah, along with Rabbi Joel D. Newman and Cantor Michelle Cohn Levy as they ascended in the Eagle Bahn gondola. Looking below, you could see mountain bikers racing down the slopes. I’ll have to come back in the winter. I can’t imagine how beautiful these hills are covered in snow.

The Shabbat service took place on the Vail wedding deck. And not only was the scenery breathtaking, but the weather was gorgeous. I am so grateful to be able to capture this magical day. The energy from the band was amazing to experience up close. Nefesh Mountain’s performance actually gave me chills and I seriously couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the day. Thank you to Nefesh Mountain and the members of the B’nai Vail Congregation for making this spectacular celebration possible.

Josh Hartman, Travel Elopement and Family Photographer

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