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Center for Judaic Studies

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Jewish Pioneers

On Jan. 4, 2006, former Colorado Public Radio Colorado Matters host Dan Meyers interviewed Jeanne Abrams, director of the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society, and Miles Saltiel—a relative of a Colorado mine owner who brought a group of Russian Jews to Cotapaxi in the late 1800s—about the failed agricultural colony in Cotopaxi, Colo.

From 1882-1884, Cotopaxi was the site of an agricultural colony of Russian-Jewish immigrants. After the ill-fated colony disbanded in 1884, most of the colonists moved to Denver, forming the nucleus of the city's west side Jewish community.

In 2005, Miles Saltielwrote an article for the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Notes on the Cotopaxi Colony and used some newly discovered primary resources to "rebalance the record."

You can listen to the interviews online:

  1. Cotapaxi Jewish Settlement I (MP3)—Miles discusses his controversial ancestor, the role he played in Cotapaxi history and his defense against the claim that his relative exploited the Jewish immigrants.
  2. Cotapaxi Jewish Settlement II (MP3)—Jeanne and Dan discuss the role of the unlikely Cotapaxi Jewish settlement in American history and Denver's development. In 2010, the RMJHS featured a new film on Cotopaxi, which offers a balanced approach to the controversial story.

Additionally, Dr. Jeanne Abrams was interviewed about her research on Dr. Charles Spivak and Pioneering Jewish Women. You can listen to the interviews online:

  1.  Jewish Women Pioneering the Frontier Trail (MP3)—Jeanne and Dan talk about the differences in roles of Jewish women in the pioneer west
  2.  Dr. Charles David Spivak (MP3)—Jeanne and Dan discuss the impact of tuberculosis treatment on the growth of Denver, and Dr. Charles Spivak's key role in Denver with the founding the Jewish Consumtives' Relief Society