Why Save Temple Aaron?
Why should we care about Temple Aaron? Why should we work so hard to preserve an old building located so far away from the closest Jewish community of any size? These are good questions, and we know that there are so many wonderful causes that are worthy of your attention and contributions. We offer the following for your consideration:
1. Temple Aaron is unique and of great historical value. The building was constructed in 1889 and is nearly 130 years old. It has never been altered or rebuilt from its original design. It has always been a synagogue and nothing else. It is the oldest such synagogue in Colorado and the entire Mountain West, the third oldest such synagogue west of the Mississippi River (the other two are located in Jefferson City, Missouri and San Leandro, California, both also constructed in the 1880s), and one of less than two dozen remaining original synagogues built in the 19th century in the entire United States. It was designed by the regionally renowned architects the Rapp brothers, who also designed many of the other buildings in Trinidad from the same time period. For all of these reasons, the building is of immense historical significance to the Jewish community and the town of Trinidad, and is therefore worthy of preservation. History Colorado and Colorado Preservation, Inc. (CPI), the two major historical preservation entities in our state, recognize this and have dedicated significant monetary and other resources to Temple Aaron over the years. CPI holds a historic preservation easement over the building, which means its exterior can never be altered.
2. Temple Aaron is brick and mortar proof that Jewish people have been an integral part of the history and settlement of the Rocky Mountain West since the arrival of Euro-Americans in any significant numbers. To those who would falsely claim that Jews were late arrivals (or worse), all we need to do is point to this magnificent structure.
3. Temple Aaron represents a covenant to our Jewish forebears that it is now up to us to keep. “L’Dor v’ Dor,”- From Generation to Generation- is one of the most important concepts in Judaism. When the original group of Trinidad Jews decided they needed their own place of worship, they did not rent space in the back of a saloon, or throw up a shack. They bought a lot and constructed a red brick marvel, with a 200-person sanctuary, beautiful stained-glass windows, and an enormous pipe organ. They built Temple Aaron so that it would last for centuries. In return, they expected that their co-religionists in future generations would honor their sacrifices and foresight by maintaining their synagogue. It is now our turn to do our part.
4. Temple Aaron can be saved, kept in Jewish hands, and continue to be used as a place of Jewish worship and community events, just as it has been for generations!! All it takes is a little effort and the dedication of sufficient resources. We- American Jews- are the luckiest, wealthiest, most integrated Jewish community that has ever lived, and we have these resources. If we do not maintain this monument to our history, who will, and why should anyone else care? Conversely, what is the alternative? It is to let Temple Aaron crumble and deteriorate to the point where it is no longer useful or a worthy testament to our forebears, creating an eyesore in the Trinidad community and bringing shame upon ourselves. This simply can’t be allowed to happen, especially with all the benefits that saving Temple Aaron would bring to so many people.