Jewish-Americans have contributed to the rich cultural, economic and political life throughout Colorado’s history. Mr. Abraham Goldsmith and his brother Henry Goldsmith are the first known Jewish immigrants to what was then the Territory of Colorado, both traveling to the United States from Bavaria, Germany in 1854. The Goldsmith brothers arrived in Denver in 1859 and around this time both brothers were granted American citizenship. Thereafter, the Goldsmith brothers married sisters Rosa and Clara Strauss, who also immigrated to the United States from the Bavarian Region of Germany. Several years after initially settling in Denver, the Brothers Goldsmith and their families were forced by flooding in the area now known as Cherry Creek to leave the area, and all members of the family moved to Pueblo in 1864, marking the Goldsmith families as the first documented Jewish-Americans in the Pueblo Region. By 1870, Pueblo, Colorado was home to twelve Jewish families, six years prior to Colorado Statehood in August 1876 and fifteen years before the city was officially incorporated in November 1885. Prior to the establishment of Temple Emanuel, Jewish
families worshiped at a building on South Union Avenue.
By 1895 approximately fifty Jewish families in Pueblo County organized within an Orthodox congregation, continuing to worship in the Union Avenue building. Reform Judaism was active in Jewish communities throughout the United States since 1873, and in 1898 the Ladies Temple Association, a Reform group, established the Temple Emanuel Congregation. By 1900 the Pueblo Jewish community was large enough to establish a permanent physical presence with the building of a new synagogue.
Noted Pueblo architect Jacob M. Giles and builder George Reynolds were retained by the Temple Emanuel Congregation to design and build Temple Emanuel Synagogue. Construction commenced in March 1900 and the Synagogue was completed by July 1900. Temple Emanuel was officially dedicated on September 7, 1900 by Rabbi Emil G. Hirsh of Chicago, who at that time led the largest Reform synagogue in the United States. Colorado Governor Alva Adams was among many honored speakers at the Temple’s dedication.
Temple Emanuel is particularly noteworthy for its eclectic architecture. The Temple was designed and constructed largely in the Queen Anne style, which was at the time seldom incorporated into religious structures. Mr. Giles’ architectural plans called for a rectangular building with two prominent, octagonal gables framing the entrance. A Syrian archway, hand-hewn of regionally quarried limestone, frames two wooden doors. Other design features of the Synagogue are its massive foundation of Colorado limestone, red brick walls and widespread use of leaden stained-glass windows throughout the structure; records suggest Temple Emanuel was the first House of Worship in Southern Colorado at the time to utilize stained glass.The interior of Temple Emanuel is unique, incorporating opera-style seating for approximately 130 congregants, with each seating row gently sloping towards the Bimah, from which the Holy Torah is read during services. At the rear of the Temple sanctuary are the Temple’s Torah scrolls, housed in the Aron Ha-Kadosh, the Holy Ark.
Erected 2023 by Temple Emanuel Community, Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation.