The continuity of Temple Aaron is due largely to the dedication of the Rubin family of Raton, NM. Their third-generation, 91 year-old clothing shop in Raton, 17 miles south on Raton Pass, was founded by Barney Rubin. As family legend goes, Barney arrived in New York from Minsk, Russia in 1916, with only a gold piece and his patent-leather boots, then made his way to Pueblo, CO sweeping Pullman cars. Like many others of his generation, he became a peddler with a team of horses before founding his store in Raton.
His daughter-in-law, Kathryn, with her husband, Leon, son, Randy, and daughter-in-law, Tamar, works with enthusiasm to insure that the lights of Temple Aaron continue to shine. Im just a newcomer, she insists. I only arrived in 1946.
Kathryn is the keeper of the keys to the synagogue, the caretaker or shamus, a role she inherited in 1987 with the passing of Beatrice Sanders, who, for 34 years served as the communitys lay rabbi.
She was the glue that kept us together, says Rubin, who imports a circuit-riding rabbi each year to conduct High Holiday services. This year, Rabbi Howard Hirsch, who visits several congregations in Ohio, California, Florida and Colorado Springs, will officiate. Rabbi Hirsch is active in interfaith activities and a founder of the Center for Christian-Jewish Dialogue.
Thanks to an endowment created by the sons of Rabbi Leopold Freudenthal, who officiated from 1889 until his death in 1916, and the efforts of the congregations 18 member families who live scattered throughout the region from Ute Park, NM to Walsenberg, CO, Temple Aaron is much more than a monument to the past. All major holidays the High Holidays, Simchas Torah, Purim, Passover and Hanukkah, continue to be celebrated here. The Colorado Historic Society is offering matching funds for the much-needed re-stabilization of the building.
And since 1940, on the Sunday between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, members of the surrounding communities fill the 250-seat sanctuary to enjoy the annual interfaith program. Following a program of Leonard Bernstein or George Gershwin, white-gloved ladies pour tea from silver tea services while members of the crowd socialize over fancy pastries, happy to be among friends of all faiths.
This article first appeared in a different form in the
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