Other Social Activities and Events
(Griswold, p. 375, 1879)
In the same issue of the Chronicle which told about the Ladies' Relief Society's Martha Washington Tea, another article disclosed the large number of Jewish families living in Leadville. While the men were leaders in the movements for finding a suitable place where all could worship together and for securing a piece of ground for burial purposes, such women as Mrs. Jacob Schloss, Mrs. Joseph Samuels and Mrs. Moses Shoenberger [should be Shoenberg] were helpful in arranging for the mid-September religious observance, the newspaper carrying this account:
. . . last night nearly all places of business in this city belonging to Jews were closed, and they are all closed today. This is the Jewish new year, the same as the first day of January begins the Christian new year. The Jews believe that God finished the world five thousand six hundred and forty years ago to-day, and consequently this to them is the year 5640. Immediately after closing their stores and shops yesterday evening they assembled in the [Shoenberg] Opera House on Chestnut street, and held religious services appropriate to the going out of the old year. At nine o'clock this morning they reassembled in the same place. The hall was filled with as well dressed and as intelligent appearing assemblage as has ever been witnessed in Leadville. Many of our leading merchants with their families were there.
On all being seated one of the brethren wearing a white cloth over his shoulders approached the stage and began to read from a book printed in Hebrew. The reading was a sort of chant, something after the style of the Episcopal or Catholic Christians, and every little while the large assemblage would arise and join in the chant. Each person was provided with a book. A member told the reporter that it was the book of the new year and was only used on these new year occasions. The services were the same here in the Opera House to-day as they were in the Jerusalem temples five thousand years ago, only of course not so imposing. It was according to the orthodox faith in which the reformed wing joined. The white cloths or shawls which some of the congregation wore, were in imitation of the apparel worn by the Israelites when they were driven out from Egypt. These cloths are worn by the orthodox Jews on all religious occasions. They even wear them to their graves. The chanting corresponded to the Christian prayers for a prosperous new year, and thanks to God for the blessings of the year just passed into oblivion forever. All things considered, the Jews and the Christians are alike in their new year observances, with the exception that after prayers the Christians make calls, customary on such occasions. The Jews, after their prayers in their synagogues, go quietly to their homes and do nothing but read their Bibles and pray till the great anniversary is over.
Copyright 2017 • Temple Israel Foundation