Synagogue Stands as a Testament to Jewish Faith
Today marks the 131st anniversary of the dedication of the Temple Israel building which was officially done on Rosh Hashanah, Friday, September 19, 1884. To celebrate this anniversary, the Temple Israel museum will have coffees and light snacks all weekend, thru Sunday. Drop by and see their new exhibition, which was established this summer.
It was three years ago on September 23, 2012 that the Temple Israel Foundation hosted an open house to present the synagogue in all its former (and present) glory.
Temple Israel Synagogue and Museum is located at 201 W. 4th Street and provides visitors with a view of what life was like for Leadville’s pioneer Jews. According to the group’s brochure, in the early 1880s, people from all social strata flocked to Leadville in search of their fortunes. Among the town’s approximately 30,000 inhabitants in the 1880s, some 300 were Jews, including David May and the Guggenheims.
Jews were amongst the early settlers of the upper Arkansas Valley (ca. 1861) and while some worked in the mines, most worked as merchants. Wholesale liquor was an area of commerce that proved to be particularly lucrative. Leadville’s earliest Jewish settlers mainly had roots in Germany, held assimilationist attitudes, and practiced Reform Judaism. Later immigrants were more religiously rigorous.
Leadville’s Jewish population declined with the rest of the town when the U.S. silver standard was abandoned in 1893. Leadville’s current population is about 3,000, with fewer than 100 Jews.
It was during Leadville’s first “boom” on September 19, 1884, that the Temple Israel was dedicated, during Rosh Hashanah, reflecting the size and strength of Leadville’s Jewish community.
Today, while regular services are no longer held in the synagogue, the building has a small artifact collection that documents the experience of Leadville’s Jewish pioneers. The collection includes objects supporting the historic record that Jews found prosperity as merchants, trades people, and even one brothel owner.
While the Temple Israel Foundation was founded in 1987 to acquire, historically rehabilitate, and maintain the synagogue and cemetery, most locals will remember the tragic fire in 2006, that nearly brought the building to the ground when an electrical mishap had flames shooting high into the Leadville sky. But like a phoenix from the ashes, the tragedy gave added zeal to the restoration project, which was supported by private contributions and four grants from the Colorado State Historical Fund. Restoration was completed in 2008.
See it for yourself this weekend during the 131 Anniversary of the Temple or you may also schedule a tour through the group’s website at www.jewishleadville.org.
Mining Museum Highlights Lunar Meteorites
The National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum announced this week the addition of three lunar meteorites to their “Expanding Boundaries: Harrison Schmitt and the New Mining Frontier exhibit.”
The lunar meteorites are now on view through September 2016 at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum. These specimens are on loan from Mile High Meteorites, the Matt Morgan Collection. The Mining Museum is located at 120 W. 9th Street in Leadville.
“I’m extremely honored to have my lunar meteorites on display at the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum,” says Morgan. “These fragments of the Moon are larger than those that are on display in many of the world’s top museums and represent over 4 billion years of lunar history. I sincerely hope they may help inspire the next generation of space explorers.”
About the National Mining Hall of Fame & Museum (NMHF&M):
The Museum at the NMHF&M boasts one of the most comprehensive mining memorabilia equipment and minerals collections in North America. The more than 20,000 square feet of exhibit space are dedicated to the institution’s mission to “tell the story of mining, its people and its importance to the American public.” Feature exhibits include the walk-through World of Molybdenum, Hard Rock Mine, Prospector’s Cave, and Coal Mine replicas; the Gold Rush, Industrial Minerals, and Crystal Rooms; and the newly updated Frost Gallery showcasing more than 600 minerals from all over the world.
For more information contact: Stephanie Johnson, Registrar, National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, www.mininghalloffame.org, (719) 486-1229, Stephanie@mininghalloffame.org.