Leadville’s Temple Israel Offers Service
The Horn of Faith and Reflection
This time of year the bugling call from an animal’s horn might be interpreted as a sign that the hunting season is underway in the high country. However, should you hear such a siren hailing from the corner of 4th and Pine Streets in Leadville this Sunday, be assured its call is not an enticement for the Elk, but rather for the Jewish faithful as they gather for a tradition that has not been performed in America’s highest city in nearly 100 years.
Sunday’s services at the Temple Israel will mark the Rosh Hashanah holiday and offer some rites which have not been performed in the synagogue for decades (details below). But as the seasons change, it’s a good time to bring readers current with a Faith Update report from Leadville Today. These have been challenging COVID times for all, but for Leadville believers, this summer has seen great chapters in the ebbing and flowing of faith. From relocating weekly services outside to postponed church weddings to final good-byes which have looked a bit different through the lens of a worldwide pandemic, Lake County residents are resilient, often seeing the glass as half full. So keep the faith, lean in, and enjoy the communion of others – safely – in Leadville Today. And, if you have some news to add to the report, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rosh Hashanah on the Mountaintop
This Sunday, Sept. 20 Rosh Hashanah (begins sunset 9/18/2020) services will be offered at the historic Temple Israel Synagogue in Leadville. The morning will include Torah readings and shofar (ram’s horn) blowing, will be held for the first time in close to 100 years. Leading the services will be Rabbi Kevin Hale, a Sofer STaM, a traditionally trained Torah scribe who spends his days evaluating, repairing and writing Torah/tefillin/megillot. He and his family reside in Leeds (Massachusetts). His wife, Ruth Hale, will assist with the Torah reading. Ruth actually has a family connection to this Torah. There is no charge to attend, and casual dress is fine, however, masks must be worn at all times while indoors, and RSVP is mandatory, as capacity limits are in effect. Attendees should bring their own tallit (ritual prayer shawl) if they choose to wear one.
Blowing of The Shofar
Like many of its ceremonies, the blowing of the shofar is a vital piece of commemorating the Rosh Hashanah holiday. As part of this Sunday’s services at the Temple Israel Synagogue, this rite will be performed on the holy grounds for the first time in nearly 100 years. According to Jewish Tradition, the call of the shofar is a reminder to look inward and reflect on the past year. The ritual involves a series of notes, a sort of spiritual Morse code ranging from one big blast to a series of short, staccato sounds, ending with a prolonged, mournful note. Since the procedure involves blowing into a ram’s horn, the congregation at Temple Isreal will hold this part of the service outdoors, abiding by present-day public health guidelines but resulting in the same impact of the horn’s unique sound, recalling its ancient stories of faith.
Atonement On High
Most practices of faith have a ritual for atonement. After all, most humans are likely to get themselves into trouble at some time or another, making the need for repentance a likely rite for any religion. For the Jewish faithful, it’s called Tashlikh. The ritual is performed near a body of flowing water and involves the worshipers symbolically cleansing their sins by throwing small pieces of bread into the water while reciting the Tashlikh prayer. On Sunday, Sept. 20 this ceremony will follow services at the Synagogue where the group will walk to a nearby creek for the brief event. Those participating are reminded to bring a small bag of bread pieces or crumbs to toss into the water for this annual ritual.
Free on-street parking on 4th or Pine. Remember RSVP is required and parts of the services, including shofar blowing, will be held outdoors, so a jacket or sweater will be needed. More information/maps/directions: www.jewishleadville.org or Bill Korn, Temple Israel Foundation President, 303-709-7050.
Synagogue Stands as a Testament to Jewish Faith
This month also marks the 136th anniversary of the dedication of the Temple Israel building which was officially conducted on Rosh Hashanah back in 1884. While regular services are no longer held in the synagogue, this Sunday there will be a Rosh Hashanah service offered. Please see the news brief above.
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.
In addition, the building has a growing 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, tradespeople, 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. The restoration was completed in 2008. Interested parties may also schedule a tour through the group’s website at www.jewishleadville.org.
Open The Door & See All the People
Each house of worship in Leadville Today continues to navigate their way through the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions surrounding group gatherings put in place by public health officials since March 2020. For congregations like First Baptist Church of Leadville, an online component to connection has been added through the group’s Facebook Page, where regular topics of faith are discussed as part of their Sunday Services.
Meanwhile on Leadville’s west side members of Holy Family Parish continue to hold regular Mass outside with Father Rafael Rico-Torres preaching to a congregation of parishioners who remain in or next to their vehicles in the sizeable parking lot at St. Joseph Church located at W. 2nd and James Streets.
And finally here is a video share from Pastor Jason Horning with Cornerstone Church. Horning is also a member of Lake County Search and Rescue (SAR) and in this video, he combines a scriptural message with an experience he had during a recent SAR’s mission. The setting of the video is the historic Evergreen Cemetery in Leadville, Colorado.
That’s a wrap for this Faith Update post from Lake County, Colorado. If you have some news to add to the report, send it to email@example.com. Until next time, keep the faith and enjoy the communion of others in Leadville Today.