An important element of Jewish culture is the social aspect. Fellowship and interaction with one another was important, both in formal and informal ways.
No known record exists to indicate what the synagogue attendance was like. However, we know that Leadville Jews were active in both secular Jewish organizations and non-Jewish civic affiliations, such as the Knights of Pythias and the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
Many of Leadville’s pioneer Jewish organizations were charitable ones. Among the earliest ones was the Hebrew Ladies’ Benevolent Society (established in 1879), which had about forty members and provided charitable assistance to local residents regardless of religious affiliation. The Society regularly held charity balls that were popular events, especially the annual Purim Ball.
According to a report in the March 23, 1883 edition of the Leadville Daily Herald, Jews were not the only ones in attendance at that year’s Purim festivities; “a great many who were not Israelites” were also present “for it was a masquerade and the fun was great.”
Besides the Hebrew Ladies’ Benevolent Society, other social Jewish organizations existed.
• The Hebrew school was established in 1882 and held annual picnics.
• The Leadville chapter of B’nai B’rith were established 1879 but were forced to close in 1881 for being “neglectful of its obligations”. [Breck 1960: 129]
• The Hebrew Benevolent Association of Leadville was established in 1879 and buried the dead, cared for the sick and orphaned, and provided aid to those in need.
Copyright 2016 • Temple Israel Foundation