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History

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Those who came before us laid an important foundation for us to enjoy a thriving Jewish community today.

Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado and the Jewish Community Foundation united under one public charity, JEWISHcolorado, in 2013.  Prior to that, both individual organizations had a longstanding and important history in Colorado.

For more than 65 years, the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado worked to enhance Jewish life, mobilize local, national and international partners’ expertise and resources and raise crucial funds that bring food, health care, refuge, education, and emergency assistance to vulnerable Jewish people in Colorado, Israel, and other communities around the world.

For more than six decades the national Federation system, Jewish Federations of North American (JFNA), has served as a beacon of hope and help in troubled times across the world. From Ethiopia, Hungary to the former Soviet Union and the recently impoverished Argentinean Jews.

Over those decades and still today, we have stood tall with our extended Jewish family in Israel in the midst of terror that has left thousands dead or injured. Through our overseas beneficiary agencies, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and The American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), we have supplied vital services to meet the most acute needs during times of crisis.

We are making history every day.

LOCAL JEWISH HISTORY

How it all began:
Many Jewish men came to Denver with the discovery of gold near Pikes Peak. While many of the early pioneers were men, they soon brought their families out with them. Shortly, there were small Jewish communities in many towns around Colorado like Central City, Pueblo, Trinidad and Leadville, not to mention a burgeoning community in Denver. By 1859, there were enough Jews in Denver to make a minyan for Rosh Hashanah services.

Denver Jewish Life

The West Side community is the oldest Jewish community in Denver, Colorado.  This West Colfax neighborhood remained predominately Jewish from the 1920s to the 1950s with thriving businesses and cultural life.  It was a traditional community with its own Eruv. The community follows Ashkenazi Jewish traditions as set forth by the Litvak Jewish tradition, that of Lithuanian Judaism.  Life in the community is centered around the Denver Community Kollel (school), Congregation Zera Avraham,Yeshiva Toras Chaim, Lake Steam Baths, and a Bais Yaakov (girls’ school), Beth Jacob High School of Denver.

Golda Meir, who later became Prime Minister of Israel, lived in the “West Side” neighborhood as a teenager. Her family’s home at 1606 Julian Street was restored and moved to the Auraria Campus in Downtown Denver.

The Golda Meir House Museum
Included in this number were a few names you might recognize like David May (of May Company), The Shwayder brothers (who opened Samsonite luggage), and Louis Robinson (of Robinson Dairy). Not to mention the future Prime Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, who ‘ran away’ from her parents to stay with her married sister in Denver. It is here that Meir, began her long association with Zionism and democratic socialism, as well as met her future husband, Morris Myerson.

In 1981, the duplex at 1606-1608 Julian Street was first identified as the Denver home of Golda Meir. The house was moved twice before being relocated by the Auraria Foundation to the Auraria Campus in September 1988.

The Golda Meir House was designated a Denver landmark in 1995, and a total restoration was accomplished through private contributions and a grant from the Colorado Historical Fund. The building today serves as a museum, conference center, and the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership, a program of Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Original artifacts on display include a mezuzah and pushke. The importance of Meir’s Denver experience is documented in her 1975 autobiography, My Life, where she states, “It was in Denver that my real education began…”

If you go…
The Golda Meir House Museum is located at 1146 9th Street on the Auraria Campus in Denver. The museum will be open Monday, Nov. 7 from 1 – 4 p.m. and on Tuesday, Nov. 8 from 9 a.m. to noon. Phone: 303-556-3291

Emmanuel Gallery – Shearith Israel – Tenth Street Shul

While you are on the Auraria Campus, you might want to visit the Emmanuel Gallery. Though not originally built as a synagogue, the Tenth Street Shul, now known as Emmanuel Gallery, was once a fixture in the Denver Jewish community. Built in 1876, Emmanuel Gallery is Denver’s oldest standing church structure. Due to the change in the religious background of the neighborhood, in 1903 Emmanuel Episcopal Chapel was purchased by the congregation of Shearith Israel and converted to a synagogue. Emmanuel Shearith Israel Chapel served the developing Jewish community and became known as the Tenth Street Shul. For over one half of a century, the synagogue served the Jewish community. Over time, as families moved out of the area, the congregation dwindled.  In 1958, Shearith Israel Synagogue was sold.  In 1969, the Emmanuel Chapel was listed on the National Register of Historical places. It now serves as an art gallery.

If you go…
The Emmanuel Gallery is located on the Auraria Campus at 1205 10th Street Mall in Denver.
Visit the website here.

National Jewish Health
As we mentioned, Golda Meir came to Denver to visit her sister, who was in Denver to treat her tuberculosis, as so many other patients were.
The Jewish community in Denver has a long history for caring for the sick including the 1899 opening of National Jewish Hospital (now known as National Jewish Health) whose motto was, “None May Enter Who Can Pay – None Can Pay Who Enter.” The Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (JCRS) was formed in 1904 to care for patients at all points in the disease. Many cured tubercular patients and their families stayed in Denver, swelling the ranks of the Jewish population. In honor of her work for the community at large as well as the Denver Jewish community, Francis Wisebart Jacobs, who was called the “mother of Jewish charity work,” is the only woman to have her portrait in a stained glass window gracing the Colorado Hall of Fame in the rotunda of the State Capitol.

Today, National Jewish Health is known worldwide for treatment of patients with respiratory, cardiac, immune and related disorders, and for groundbreaking medical research. National Jewish Health remains the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to these disorders. Since 1998, U.S. News & World Report has ranked National Jewish Health the #1 respiratory hospital in the nation.

If you go…
National Jewish Health is located at 1400 Jackson Street in Denver.
Visit the website here.

The Hill Section of Golden Hill Cemetery
Golden Hill Cemetery served as a burial ground for the many Jewish tuberculosis patients who came to Colorado for a cure. Most were patients from the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (JCRS), which was located near Colfax and Pierce Streets. The Hill Section was set aside for families who were unable to afford proper burials.

There were approximately 700 graves identified by metal markers with the names of the deceased written on cards that were inserted into the markers. According to Jewish law, men and women were buried separately.
The Hill Section has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

If you go…
The Hill Section of Golden Hill Cemetery is located near the intersection of W. Colfax Avenue and Union Street in Lakewood.
Visit the website here.

Isaac Solomon Synagogue (JCRS Campus)
Also in Lakewood is The Isaac Solomon Synagogue, which is located on the site of the former Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (JCRS) campus.
Isaac Solomon built the synagogue in 1911 in memory of his son, Jacob, who died of tuberculosis. The original building burned, and the current synagogue was opened in 1926.

The synagogue was built in a Moorish architectural style.  A 10′ x 12′ patient tent from the original JCRS campus was moved from its original location and restored. It is now located near the synagogue. The tent is believed to be the last remaining intact structure of its kind in the Western United States.

Medical advances in finding a tuberculosis cure caused JCRS to close its doors in 1954. The AMC Cancer Research Center subsequently bought the property, and it is now owned by the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Throughout the years, the synagogue has fallen into disrepair. The Isaac Solomon Historic Synagogue Foundation was created in 2001 to raise funds to restore the structure. For more information, please visit Isaac Solomon Synagogue.

The synagogue has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties.

If you go…
The synagogue is located at 1600 Pierce Street in Lakewood.
Visit the website here.

Temple Emanuel (Old Pearl Street Temple)
The Isaac Solomon Synagogue is not the only Colorado shul with an interesting history. Denver’s Temple Emanuel is the oldest Jewish congregation in the state of Colorado, founded in 1874. It is also the largest Jewish congregation between Kansas City and the West Coast. The temple had several locations before its current home in Denver’s Hilltop neighborhood. Originally, the congregation had to relocate to accommodate its growing membership. Just a few years later, since many of its members no longer lived near the temple’s second building, Temple Emanuel chose the location at 16th Avenue and Pearl Street as its third home, which was dedicated in January of 1899. In 1924 this building was doubled in size.

Now home to the Temple Events Center, the building is an example of Eastern-Islamic design. The Pearl Street Temple was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 and is located in Denver’s North Capitol Hill neighborhood.

If you go…
The Temple is located at 1595 Pearl Street in Denver.
Visit the website here.

http://www.du.edu/cjs/rocky_mountain_jewish_historical_society.html