The IJN staff has steeped itself in 100 years of community history — and 100 years of our archives.
Fascinating discoveries — and enduring questions — leave our history forever unfinished.
Why is it that a picture of Rabbi Solomon Shapiro, a Yiddish-speaking, mid-20th-century European gentleman in Denver, who distinguished himself with his flowing English, is nowhere to be found?
Why did the Labor Zionist movement, a major institutional and ideological focus of Denver Jewry 10 decades ago, fade away?
Why is the Jewish Family Service, after 141 years, not only still with us, but stronger and more pervasive than ever; while B’nai B’rith, once the major address for Jewish community concerns, has surrendered that distinction to the Allied Jewish Federation?
Why is virtually nothing known about Sam Neuschatz, who led the move of the JCC from two small locations on the West Side to its current, major facility?
Why did Beth Joseph gain some 100 new members per year in the 1950s — the most powerful example of synagogue growth in Denver Jewish history — yet, some 30 years later, need to merge in order to survive?
For that matter, why is the history of the West Side of Denver dotted with former synagogue buildings? The key word here is former. What happened to these congregations?
How did Richmond’s, an eatery, become the place for Jewish businessmen to go for lunch downtown in the 1950s, and then fade away?
Why is there no known record of the visit to Denver in the 1920s of the first chief rabbi of Palestine?
How is it that Denver Jewry became the home of day schools, yeshivas and traditional outreach programs, yet, over the same span as the establishment of these critical and now venerable institutions, also witness more intermarriage than back in the 1920s, when Denver had not a single day school or outreach program?
Why was there just a single convert to Judaism in the 1950s in the old BMH, yet now, every congregation, from the most liberal to the most Orthodox, is full of converts?
Why was Rose Hill Cemetery located where it is, miles and miles from the Denver Jewish community where it existed when the cemetery was founded?
Whence the tremendous sense of responsibility manifested by the founders of both the Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society and National Jewish — leaders in both the very Orthodox and very Reform communities of Denver?
What was the attraction of 24th and Curtis Street — home, successively, to Temple Emanuel, BMH and Beth Joseph, over a span of some 70 years?
When, precisely, did Denver’s Jewish leadership transition from being mostly businessmen to being mostly professionals?
What was it about Denver Jewry that enabled women to become major leaders of its institutions (such as Bella Mintz and Fanny Lorber) and editors of its newspaper (such as Hattie Freudenthal), nearly a century ago?
What was the tipping point, before which Holocaust survivors were virtually invisible in our community, and after which many of them became major leaders and benefactors; and what accounts for the development?
These and countless other questions came to the minds of the Intermountain Jewish News staff as it labored over its 100th anniversary, large-size commemorative magazine, due out next week.
We answered many questions, rescued many people from obscurity, acknowledged many leaders and fascinating personalities — and were left with countless gaps and questions. There is always another century to scour the memories, examine the archives and search for the answers.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News