Jewish Congregations In Colorado
The first Jewish services were
held in what is now the State of Colorado in 1859 by a few of the early
gold-seekers of that faith. There is, however, no record of these
exercises and those who came a few years later have merely the verbal
report that the holy days were always kept by a group of the devout Jews
who had come as trail-makers into the new gold regions.
permanent Jewish organization in Colorado was Denver Lodge, No. 171,
Independent Order B'nai B'rith. This was instituted April 7, 1872.
The charter members were: David Kline, Louis Anfenger, Julius
Londoner, Fred Z. Salomon, Herman Schayer, A. M. Appel, Samuel Rose,
Bernhard Berry, Solomon Hexter, M. Abrams, Phil. Trounstine, David
Mitchell, Isidor Deitsch, Michael Hattenbach, H. I. Weil, Edward Pisko,
John Eisner, Simon L. Wels, H. Z. Salomon, Charles Rothschild, and Caesar
The event took place at Clark and Crow's Hall, at
Fifteenth and Holladay (now Market) streets. The first officers were David
Kline, president; F. Z. Salomon, vice president; Louis Anfenger,
secretary; Phil. Trounstine, treasurer; A. M. Appel, monitor; David
Mitchell, assistant monitor; S. L. Wels, warden; Ed. Pisko, guardian; H.
Z. Salomon, S. Hexter, and Julius Londoner, trustees; and Dr. J. Eisner,
Two months later Temple Emanuel was organized,
Louis Anfenger, the secretary of the lodge, being chosen president of the
congregation. The latter worshipped in the B'nai B'rith Hall for some
time, the lodge paying for the hall rent and Congregation Emanuel for the
fuel and light.
In 1874 the congregation, consisting of twenty-one
members, considered ways and means for raising funds to build a house of
A fair was among the devices, and proved successful. The
Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Society donated the carpets, furniture and other
accessories, and the modest structure at Nineteenth and Curtis streets was
dedicated September 30, 1875.
The members of the choir, during the
first years of the Temple's organization, almost all volunteered their
services. One soprano was engaged and an organist for a short period.
Later Miss Seraphine Eppstein, now Mrs. Pisko, volunteered her services as
organist. The other members of the choir were Mrs. C. M. Schayer, Mrs.
Samuel Cole, Mrs. E. Block, and Messrs. Ben Hamburger and Frank Kratzer.
The following year Rabbi S. Weil was engaged to serve the
congregation. He established a religious school, having sessions both
Saturday and Sunday, being assisted by volunteer teachers. He ministered
to them a few years, when he was followed by Rev. Marx Moses, whose
occupation of this pulpit was of but short duration, when he was succeeded
by Rabbi Henry Bloch, who remained until August, 1881.
congregation was slowly growing with the growth of the town and its home
became too small. When Dr. M. Elkin arrived in the fall of 1881, he found
his congregation making preparations to move into a larger and more
pretentious abode, at Twenty-fourth and Curtis streets.
building and lots of the old temple were sold, and later used by the
orthodox congregation, Ahava Amuno, which, however, was short-lived. A
fair was held at Standard Hall, where a large sum was raised towards
defraying the expenses of the new edifice.
On September 1, 1882,
the dedication occurred. Dr. H. S. Sonnenschein, then of St. Louis, came
to Denver to assist in the exercises.
Rabbi Elkin was succeeded by
Dr. Emanuel Schreiber, under whose ministrations the congregation
prospered greatly. Following him came the Rev. Mendes De Solla.
Rev. De Solla was succeeded by Dr. William S. Friedman in 1889. The
arrival of this young Rabbi marked the beginning of a new era for
Congregation Emanuel. He infused life and energy into an almost inanimate
organization. He retained a strong hold upon the older members and reached
the young people, making of the temple a real social and religious center.
The attendance at services was very large immediately after his coming,
and has not since that time decreased, but has grown with the growth of
The temple was destroyed by fire in November, 1897.
The congregation decided not to rebuild upon the same site; but the
location chosen was at Sixteenth Avenue and Pearl Street, where the temple
now stands. The three lots cost $7,750, and the building $35,000.
During the fifteen months that the congregation was without a home they
held services at Unity Church, which was offered them immediately after
The new house of worship was dedicated January 29,
1899, the third home occupied by Congregation Emanuel. Seven ministers of
various Christian churches, with whom Doctor Friedman had frequently
exchanged pulpits, assisted at this beautiful and impressive dedication,
making it a fellowship service. They were Dr. David Utter, Dr. Claudius B.
Spencer, Rev. (now Bishop) Wm. F. McDowell, Revs. Barton O. Aylesworth,
Frank T. Bayley and David N. Beach.
From the time of his coming to
the city, Doctor Friedman, who a few years ago was elected rabbi for life,
has identified himself with all broad charitable undertakings, both
sectarian and non-sectarian.
He was appointed on the State Board
of Charities and Corrections shortly after he came to Denver and has since
remained a member, serving twice as president. He is an officer of the
State Prison Association. He has been identified with the Associated
Charities, having for many years served as one of its vice presidents. He
is vice president of the State Conference of Charities. He is also vice
president of the Saturday and Sunday Hospital Association. He was
appointed on the State Board of Charities and Corrections by a republican
governor and a trustee of the public library by a democratic mayor.
He has been professor of Hebrew at the University of Colorado since
1902, from which institution he received the Doctor of Laws degree in
In 1892, dissatisfied with the manner and methods of worship
of the then existing orthodox congregations, H. Plonsky, who had
established the first orthodox minyan in Denver in 187.7, founded Beth Ha
Medrosh Hagodol Synagogue. With the aid of a few faithful supporters he
rented a commodious room on Larimer, between Fourteenth and Fifteenth
streets. Rabbi Heyman Saft, who happened to be in Denver at the time, was
engaged, and the congregation soon gained in membership and influence. A
religious school was established, the first orthodox one in the city, and
did excellent work.
On December 15, 1897, Congregation Beth Ha
Medrosh Hagodol was incorporated, and the property of old Temple Emanuel
purchased for $4,500. Soon thereafter the erection of the synagogue was
begun, and in 1898 it was formally dedicated.
In 1899 Rabbi R.
Farber was engaged. He made many innovations, one of these being the
confirmation of boys and girls, and labored with success for about two
years, when dissensions arose and he resigned.
On February 16,
1902, fire again damaged the building and the synagogue had to be rebuilt.
This was soon done, and in September of the same year it was rededicated
and the holiday services observed therein.
At the same time Rabbi
Charles Hillel Kauvar was engaged to fill the pulpit. He has served from
that time to the present day ably and faithfully, and to the great
satisfaction of his congregation.
There are today in Denver
approximately twelve thousand Jews, most of them in what are termed
orthodox congregations. Of these there were in existence in 1917 eleven
distinct organizations. These are: Beth Ha Medrosh Hagodol, Rev. C. H.
Kauvar. Rabbi, Twenty-fourth, corner Curtis Street; Congregation Agudas
Achim, Idel Idelson, Rabbi, West Thirteenth Avenue, near Platte River;
Congregation Chariot of Israel, D. Grinstein, president. Tenth, northeast
corner Lawrence; Congregation Kasher Ahavo, Rev. Frank A. Weinberg, Rabbi.
1508 Clay Street: Congregation Keles Jacob, 2715 West Holden Place:
Congregation Kneseth Israel, Rev. David Stein, Rabbi, Hooker, south-east
corner West Conejos Place: Congregation Mogen David, Rev. Louis Klavans,
Rabbi, West Fourteenth Avenue, near Platte River: Congregation Shomro
Amunoh, H. Hayutin, Rabbi, west side Tenth, corner Lawrence Street:
Congregation Zera Abraham, Rev. S. Halpern, Rabbi, 2781 W. Colfax Avenue:
Ohavey Zedek Congregation, Twenty-eighth Avenue, southeast corner Downing
Street: Tiphereth Israel, Dale Court, northwest corner West Colfax Avenue,
Rev. A. Braude, Rabbi. 2748 N. Colfax Avenue.
Of these the oldest
is Shearith Israel, which is the successor of Congregation Ahava Amunoh,
organized in 1877. For some years the latter society worshipped in the
synagogue at Fourteenth and Blake streets. In 1898 the building was given
up and services held in a hall, and by 1903 the congregation had ceased to
exist. A few of its members immediately organized Shearith Israel.
In August of that year, they purchased a building, corner of Tenth and
Lawrence streets, and moved into it the following month, before the holy
Agudoth Achim was organized in 1892.
was organized in 1887.
In the state there are now two strong
congregations, one at Trinidad and one at Pueblo, with a smaller
organization at Colorado Springs. There was also for a time a congregation
at Leadville, but this has long since gone out of existence.
history of the National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives dates back to
that time when poor consumptives all over America began to flock to
The exhilarating effects of the climate had been widely
advertised, and its curative properties were recommended by the medical
The Jews of Denver were appealed to from the pulpit of
Temple Emanuel to provide for the hundreds of stricken sufferers.
So numerous were the applicants for aid that it was soon found impossible
to shelter and care for the impoverished victims of tuberculosis.
A building of substantial proportions was constructed, but after its
completion it could not be maintained by the Jews of Denver.
Independent Order of B'nai B'rith came to the rescue. At a meeting of the
Grand Lodge, District No. 2, held in Louisville, Ky., May 18, 1898, it was
decided to endorse the efforts of establishing a hospital for consumptives
A provisional Board of Control was appointed, which
secured as president of the institution Samuel Grabfelder. This fortunate
choice gave new enthusiasm to the work, and Mr. Grabfelder still continues
as an inspiration to the institution.
On December 10, 1899, the
doors of the hospital were opened.
At the meeting of the Grand
Lodge held in Chicago, April 29, 1900, the committee on charitable and
educational institutions, in their report, stated as follows:
have also considered with care the existing and proposed relations between
our Order and the National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives located at
"The hospital is not local, either to Denver, to the
State of Colorado, or to any portion of the Union. It was not established
to meet a local condition or to gratify local pride.
"We do not
favor the proposal to convey the hospital to the Order and bring it under
our exclusive dominion. This would not be good either for the hospital or
the Order. But we do favor such a relation between the two as will give to
the hospital the use of our organized machinery, our sanction and a
substantial financial support."
The B'nai B'rith therefore
recommended that the hospital be incorporated under the laws of Colorado.
The B'nai B'rith also recommended, beginning with January 1, 1901,
that the Constitution Grand Lodge shall pay a per capita contribution.
This convention requested that the B'nai B'rith be represented by one
member from each of the seven districts.
The suggestions of the
Constitution Grand Lodge were incorporated in the laws of the hospital,
and the president of the Constitution Grand Lodge was made ex-officio a
member of the board.
The subvention of the Constitution Grand
Lodge was gradually increased to forty cents per capita.
since the doors of the hospital were opened the presidents of the B'nai
B'rith, Leo N. Levi, Simon Wolf, his successor, and the present incumbent,
Adolph Kraus, have enthusiastically championed the life-saving work of the
Without the encouragement and support of the
Independent Order of B'nai B'rith, the National Jewish Hospital for
Consumptives might never have be-come a reality.
From one building
with a capacity of sixty beds, the hospital has now grown to ten
buildings, with a capacity of one hundred and fifty.
There are the
Guggenheim Pavilion, used exclusively for men, the gift of the Guggenheim
Brothers; the Woman's Pavilion, which was constructed from the
contributions of Jews throughout the country; the Adolph Lewisohn Chapel,
the gift of the well-known New York philanthropist; the Shoenberg
Memorial, the gift of Mrs. Joseph E. Shoenberg, and Mrs. Herman August;
the Grabfelder Medical Building, the gift of the president of the
institution; the infirmary, the dining room, laundry, boiler house,
Since the opening of the hospital 3,000
patients have been admitted, from all sections of the country. New York
sends one-third and Chicago one-fifth. Three hundred patients are treated
annually; the average stay in the hospital is seven months.
patients are under the direction' of the superintendent, Dr. Saling Simon,
first and second assistant medical superintendent, the medical advisory
board of five, eight nurses and a staff of thirty consulting physicians.
Ex-patients who remain in Denver may claim the treatment of the
hospital's externe, who averages fifty calls a month, and the visiting
nurse, who, during the past year, paid 2,476 visits.
axiomatic that fresh air flooded with sunshine, good food, and life in the
open are the specific for phthisis. The consumptive who has the
opportunity of enjoying these requisites has by far the best chance to
Three-fifths of the patients admitted to the hospital
have been discharged as recovered, or with disease arrested; one-fifth
were greatly improved, the remaining one-fifth having been cases that were
far advanced, of which a number were discharged as unimproved, and some
died in the hospital.
A suitable diet is essential in the
treatment of tuberculosis. Food must be varied and appetizing. The weight
charts show how carefully the matter of diet is considered.
moral and mental condition of the patient is often as seriously involved
as his physical state. The management of the National Jewish Hospital for
Consumptives has stressed this part of its work.
While it has not
been possible to persuade the patients to perform as much work as would
perhaps be good for them, a number of the inmates are assisting in the
work of the various departments of the hospital, such as helping in the
laboratory, in the library, secretary's office, dining room, diet kitchen
and on the grounds. Their experience along these lines has been of great
assistance in fitting them for good positions.
Many patients, who
come to the hospital without knowledge, or with only limited familiarity
with the English language, enjoy the opportunity in the Shoenberg Memorial
Building to learn to read and write the vernacular. They eagerly accept
the training they receive in the school. The class in English is
supplemented by a domestic science department for women; a class in
bookkeeping; a tailoring class, where men who understand only the
rudiments of their trade are instructed in the more advanced lines of
The library is the meeting place of the patients. It
contains 1,500 volumes adapted to the needs of the patients. Here they
read and write and play games of chess, checkers, dominoes, etc.
There is also an amusement room, where entertainments are held, and where
moving pictures are exhibited weekly.
The social service work that
is carried on in the Shoenberg Memorial Building is conducted without
expense to the institution. Herman August has endowed this building.
Five years ago Louis D. Shoenberg gave to the hospital a farm in
memory of his only son, Dudley C. Shoenberg. This farm supplies products
for the health of the patients.
In 1814 Samuel Grabfelder built
and thoroughly equipped the Grabfelder Medical Building. It includes
examination rooms, laboratories, drug room, X-ray equipment, animal
quarters for experimental purposes, and a medical library. This building
adds one of the greatest units of efficiency to the hospital.
reconstructed Infirmary Building was in 1916 dedicated as the William S.
The Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society, or J.
C. R. S., as it is generally termed, is the outgrowth of an organization
promoted by a little band of poor consumptives for the purpose of aiding
one another in severe illness or distress. It did not take the projectors
of this mutual aid society very long to find out their inability to carry
out their program unaided by outsiders. A mass meeting was therefore
arranged for December 12, 1904, to consider ways and means to help the
numerous indigent consumptives who come to Colorado to regain their
While the project of the J. C. R. S. met with some
opposition, as all under-takings will in their initial stages, the appeal
in general was warmly received, and contributions began to come in. In a
short time the trustees of the society felt sufficiently encouraged to
purchase a twenty-acre tract of land on which to erect a sanatorium.
The site that was selected is located about a mile and a half from the
city limits of Denver in the adjoining county of Jefferson. It is in the
shadow of the foothills and commands a magnificent view of the Rocky
Mountains. On this piece of ground a small frame building was erected at a
cost of $300. This wooden shack, some time since converted to the baser
use of a barn, originally served as office, library, medical room, dining
room and kitchen. Around this executive structure eight tents were
pitched. Thus was inaugurated the work of the Jewish Consumptives' Relief
The sanatorium was formally dedicated September 4, 1904,
and opened for the reception of patients a few days later.
January 1, 1918, the J. C. R. S. had expended $142,997.77 on buildings and
equipment, the institution occupying fifty-seven acres. Its capacity was
150. Its income for 1917 was $174,284. Its total income from 1904 to 1917
was $1,091,537.63, practically all of which had been expended on building
enlargements, and in the care of patients. It has its own dairy and farm.
Its library to-day contains 4,000 volumes. Total cases admitted since
Dr. Philip Hillkowitz is president of the society,
and Dr. C. D. Spivak is secretary, positions which they have occupied
continuously since the organization of the J. C. R. S.
Sheltering House for Jewish children was founded in 1909, its first
officers being: President, Mrs. J. N. Lorber; vice presidents, Milton M.
Schayer, Hermann Strauss, S. R. Zwetow; treasurer, Meyer Friedman;
recording secretary, I. H. Mendelssohn. It now (1918) shelters forty
children and owns a block of ground with two modern structures. Its
principal officials in 1918 are: President, Mrs. J. N. Lorber: vice
presidents, Mrs. B. Willens, Mrs. S. Friedenthal, Mrs. S. Francis;
treasurer, Sig. Strauss; financial .secretary, Samuel Isaacson; secretary,
Max S. Schayer.
History of Colorado
Source: History of Colorado, Wilbur
Fisk Stone, Editor, Volume I, Chicago, The S. J. Clarke Publishing
Other Genealogy Resources
Do you have a website with specific locality
content that we are not already linking to, or would you like us to
change a listing to your present website. You can instruct us how to
do that by clicking on the link above!