On June 14, the JCC will be hosting the 15th Annual Don Kaufmann Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament.

This event has been attracting both novice and veteran players who put their skills and luck to the test in order to claim ultimate victory (and, of course, bragging rights). The best part? All proceeds will go towards children’s programs here at the J.

Sounds like a great time, right? Totally.

This year, we want to honor the legacy of Don Kaufmann, a one-time JCC Board President and longtime board member who passed away in 2015. Don was one of the original forces behind this legendary poker tournament.

Don’s family, Henny, Leslie, Mark, Alexis, Steven, Jennifer, and Rob kindly agreed to tell us about the lasting impact their father had on our building, especially in regards to the Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament.

What did the J mean to your father?

Family: It was a place for him to go (especially the shvitz), a place for him to see his friends, a place for him to kibbutz. When he was younger, he loved to play handball at the J and had regular games and partners. When he was on the board, it was a place for him to share his leadership skills.

How do you think he’d feel about having our Poker Tournament named after him?

Family: He would be pleased if it raised money or brought people to the J. For our family, it is a great way for our family to keep his memory alive and share his passion for the JCC.

How often did he play poker?

Familly: Only at the JCC Poker tournament. Although he loved Vegas, he didn’t gamble much.

What was his favorite thing about being President of the JCC Board?

Family: He wanted to make a difference and bring some business practices into the J.

What do you miss most about Don?

Family: His caring for his family, friends, and community. His sense of humor. He was always available to lend a helping hand to so many.

Don helped establish the Hold ‘Em event as an important fixture on the Denver Jewish community calendar, and as noted, this event has raised thousands of dollars for our children’s programs at the J. His ability to lend a helping hand, as his family said, touched so many lives within our community, and with this event, his legacy will continue to live on.

If you just so happen to make your way to this professionally-managed “Hold ‘Em” tournament, be sure to have Don in your thoughts; for, without him, this event wouldn’t exist in the first place. Thank you, Kaufmann & Sidell Families, for your continuous generosity throughout the years. Don’s absence has been felt by all, but we are so proud to have known him.

We miss you, Don.