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The Gilliam Family

The Gilliam Family: Finding Joy in Music and Community

Rabbi Shulman recently had the opportunity to connect with the Gilliam family to reflect on their HEA journey. 

The Gilliams were last spotted at HEA last week when Grove lit up the sanctuary with his skips down the aisle and gleeful singing of the Aleph Bet song at preschool graduation with his classmates. “It was really sweet to see him and all his friends at graduation and to realize I knew everyone. That’s what is so special about HEA – I really and truly felt like I knew something special about each and every kid in his class.” Grove is the first of the Gilliam’s three children to graduate from HEA’s preschool and head to kindergarten. Birk (3) and Sage (1) will continue their learning in the HEA Preschool in the fall.

The Gilliam’s joined the HEA community when they moved to Denver in 2021 from Los Angeles. Alison grew up in Cincinnati, while Duncan is from San Francisco. Jewish life is important to both Ali and Duncan, who spend their days running the Gilliam Group (which provides personal and estate management services) and working in leadership at Deloitte, respectively. They want their children to feel connected to Jewish community and find spirituality and joy in their Jewish lives. Every time Ali hears the kids singing “Thank you, Hashem,” the Aleph Bet, or another one of the beloved songs they have learned at HEA, she intentionally asks about it and encourages them to sing and reinforce these melodies at home (or in the car). As a person with a degree in Musical Theater, Ali has a unique understanding and appreciation for the role of music in the spiritual and emotional development of children. She and Duncan have created a vibrant Jewish home with songs, stories, conversations about Israel, Shabbat rituals, and curiosity. 

Moreover, the Gilliam’s reflected that HEA has become a home away from home for their family. They joined the HEA Preschool after hearing from other parents that “if you want your kids to feel loved, you send them to HEA.” Indeed, the Gilliam children and their family are truly loved at HEA. Ali is active on the preschool leadership team, and Grove was the postmaster general of the preschool internal post office this year. Rabbi Shulman fondly recalls receiving a thank you note from Grove one Thursday afternoon, which was delivered with a giant smile. “Dear Rabbi Shulman,” it began, “I love you. What are you going to be for Purim?” 

“Being at HEA has helped us to see a different side of Judaism,” Ali shared. As her children grow up within the joyful HEA community, we hope the Gilliams and all of us around them continue to see many different sides of Judaism while sharing the resonant tunes of Jewish life. 

Sun, September 24 2023 9 Tishrei 5784