Jewish Cemetery Clean Up, Service Celebrate Heritage
By Danielle Orcutt, Leadville Today Contributor
Last Saturday June 25, Rabbi Sara Gilbert of Greeley’s Beth Israel Congregation led Shabbat morning service at Temple Israel in Leadville with a Torah reading. It was a beautiful service with a very welcoming group of about 40 people from all around the state. The group gathered to share their faith, learn local Jewish history and provide a great community service with the 20th Annual Leadville Jewish Cemetery Clean Up.
“The discovery of silver caused Leadville’s population to grow to approximately 30,000 residents about 300 of which were Jews,” stated the historic handout distributed at the event. In 1880, the Hebrew benevolent society established the Hebrew cemetery adjacent to the newly established Evergreen Cemetery. Then in 1884, the land for the Temple Israel sold for $1 to the Congregation Israel by Horace Tabor and was built ten years later in 1894.
An electrical fire in 2006 prompted the synagogue’s full restoration and the project was completed in 2008.
After the ceremony at the Temple, the group headed out to the cemetery where they were joined by other eager volunteers for the 20th Annual Leadville Jewish Cemetery Clean Up. The do-gooders of all ages, socialized and worked together resulting in an outstanding community effort as more and more people showed up as the day continued.
A little more about the cemetery, according to organizers the Jewish community first required space for the dedicated Jewish Cemetery with the passing of Gustave “Fred” Jelenko in June 1879. He was settled into the southwest corner of the newly established Evergreen Cemetery.
At the end of the day, reflecting on the group’s improvements everyone agreed how awesome it was to bring so many people from different parts of the Colorado, sharing in one goal: to give back to the people that no longer can and to respect the history.
Leadville is such a rich town filled with endless history, to learn more about its Jewish heritage connect at the Temple Israel website. or visit the synagogue at the corner of W. 4th Street and Pine, across from St. Georges Church.
Thanks to all the volunteers who gave their time to make Leadville a better place to live and visit!