Leadville, Colorado, from the late 1870s through the First World War and well into the 20th Century has developed as one of the best examples of a classic western American mining boomtown. During its early glory days of gold and silver strikes, Leadville could have stood as a prototypic movie set populated by the full range of remarkable western caricatures. Leadville's culture and commerce were quickly absorbed into the rapidly growing structure of America's industrial economy, supplying not just precious metals but also, ultimately, metals for the production of steel and other fundamental uses. Amongst the many groups of people attracted to the minefields in the high Rockies was an eclectic sample of then recent Jewish immigrants. Representing all strata of society from mine owners and important merchants to itinerant laborers and tradespeople, they and their fellow pioneers made new lives for themselves and their families while contributing to America's evolving preeminence. It is to their memory that the Temple Israel Foundation is dedicated.
The Temple Israel Foundation is a nonprofit organization that exists to keep alive the cultural history of Leadville’s pioneer Jews from their first arrival in the 1860s through the 20th century by supporting the Temple Israel Museum and maintaining the Hebrew Cemetery.
The Temple Israel Foundation was incorporated in April 1987 “to acquire, historically rehabilitate, and maintain" the Temple Israel building and to research the history of the Jewish community in Leadville as a whole without losing sight of the particulars of individual lives.
In October 1992, the Foundation purchased the Temple Israel building. On June 18, 1993, the Foundation was awarded title to Leadville's Hebrew Cemetery by the District Court. This action rejoined in ownership both parcels originally held by the original Congregation Israel and expanded the mandate of the Foundation to include the restoration and maintenance of both properties.
Having completed the restoration to its original (1884-1894) form in 2008, the Temple Israel building has been returned to use as a synagogue and museum commemorating the Jewish experience in the industrializing West. It is available for tours and special events by appointment.
The Hebrew Cemetery, which is separate from the temple site, has benefited from nearly two decades of volunteer efforts by several hundred individuals. The cemetery has been reconsecrated and reopened for burials.
Federal Tax ID: 74-2463752