On Wednesday, June 10 Temple Aaron, the oldest continually operating Jewish Synagogue in Colorado, presented a virtual tour of the premise via Zoom, an online meeting platform, and shared a bit about the history of the structure along with plans for the future. People from Los Angeles to Honolulu, even a viewer from Jerusalem, were tuned in on the Zoom presentation.
Kicking off the presentation was a video featuring architecture throughout Trinidad and followed with board members sharing some of the history about the temple, which last year celebrated its 130th anniversary.
Designed by the regionally famous architects, the Rapp brothers, the structure boasts stained-glass windows, enormous pipe organ on a balcony overlooking the 200 seat sanctuary, and elevated wooden bimah. Two local Jewish brothers, Randy and Ron Rubin were present on the Zoom presentation and said they represent the last of the local congregation in Trinidad. Both shared their memories and experience of being involved with the temple.
“Ron and I have been going there since the early 50s and we were both bar mitzvah’d there,” said Randy Rubin. “If somebody dropped back in from 1901 they would see that it hasn’t been changed at all.”
When the structure was put up for sale in 2016, it spurred a few Jewish individuals from Colorado and New Mexico to reach out and offer their support to keep it from being sold.
“I happened to hear about Temple Aaron being up for sale a few years back on CPR and it was kind of a kick in the gut,” said Neal Paul, a member of the Temple Aaron board. “When I came up and entered the building it felt like something I wanted to be a part of and it’s been fun to bring people into this process.”
The Rubin brothers, who had taken over as caretakers for the property, said it was hard to put Temple Aaron on the market and tried everything they could before putting out the for sale sign.
“It was a very emotional thing to put the for sale sign up,” said Rubin. It was with a great deal of regret that we could sell two of the Torahs to postpone having to permanently shutter the temple. We’ve managed to hold on even though we’re in need of some dire renovations.”
Ron Rubin also shared memories he had from growing up and attending the temple. He also spoke about how the temple had boasted some prominent Jewish congregation members and rabbis who were involved with the temple throughout the years. Of those well-known members, Stanly Beiber, best known for his work as a sex-change surgeon, also attended the congregation and is laid to rest in the congregation’s cemetery.
With the bulk of keeping the temple around coming from grassroots efforts as explained by board members, Sherry Glickman Knecht, board member and treasurer for Temple Aaron said it’s been wonderful to see the amount of people that have come out to offer support.
“Early in the process aside from just saving the building as a structure, we really wanted to bring life back to the temple to whatever degree we could,” said Knecht. “We started having services and educational events and we started fundraising in Trinidad and Denver. People come from all over for our events. It’s been an organic growth over the past few years and it’s really amazing.”
“We’re working hard to create an endowment to help preserve the temple and if anyone is coming through Colorado and want a tour, reach out to us and we’d be happy to do it,” said Knecht.
For more information about the temple or to make a donation or schedule a tour, visit their webpage, templeaaron.org.