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History of the Jews of Colorado and Fort Collins

Past Sessions
Sunday, April 14, 2024 6 Nisan 5784 - 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM - Har Shalom
Sunday, April 7, 2024 28 Adar II 5784 - 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM - Har Shalom

Rita Kissen has spent many months researching the history of Jews in Colorado, and in Fort Collins in particular. Join her as she presents her findings, and learn about this fascinating chapter of the Jewish people in general, and of the first Jews in Fort Collins. This class will be held in person only.

April 7 Class: 

Colorado has been home to Jews since at least 1859, when 12 Jews of German descent joined the throngs of adventure seekers lured west by the discovery of gold near Pike’s Peak. By the late 19th century, Jews in Denver had established a burial society, a synagogue and a chapter of B’nai B’rith.

The story of the Jews in Colorado is the story of a people —our people— finding a home in the west, becoming part of Colorado’s civic, educational, commercial and cultural life while maintaining and celebrating our Jewish identity. This presentation will describe how the Jews of Colorado have navigated our dual status as outsiders facing discrimination and overt anti-Semitism and as Coloradoans succeeding in commerce, culture, education, and politics. From the complicated relationships between Jewish pioneers and the Native people they encountered, to the immigrants who sought to establish utopian farming communities in Atwood and Cotopaxi, to the Jewish merchants of Leadville, the industrialists of the early 20th century, and the Jewish political leaders of our own time, we will explore what it has meant to be Jewish in Colorado over the past 160 years, and what it still means for us today.

April 14 Class: 

On May 3, 1981, the Fort Collins’ Jewish community, whose members had been worshipping and educating their children for over ten years in local churches and other rented spaces, finally found a home, as members broke ground for the building that became our synagogue, Har Shalom.

This presentation will tell the stories of some of those early founders, as well as of religious school teachers, spiritual leaders, progressive activists and dozens of others over the years who have helped make Har Shalom a welcoming home for Jews of all backgrounds and interests. We will also look at Har Shalom’s place in the wider Fort Collins and Larimer County community, where Jews have been an active part of civic and community life since the late 19th century.

This presentation is part of a work in progress; please come to listen and to share your own story.

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Mon, July 22 2024 16 Tammuz 5784