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Projects of JGSCO

In addition to JGSCO's valuable programming throughout the year, JGSCO has and continues to be involved with the Colorado genealogical community. Following are samples of projects JGSCO has been involved with, in no particular order of importance. Clicking on each item takes you to its description lower on this page.

Jewish Colorado Burials in JOWBR Database on JewishGen

The JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) aims to catalog data about Jewish Cemeteries and burial records worldwide, from the earliest records to the present. JOWBR is a searchable database of names and associated information, including photographs of gravestones. As of April 2020, JOWBR contains more than 3.7 million burial records from 8,666 cemeteries in 130 countries. The database entries usually consist of the cemetery name, surname, given name, date of death and/or burial and when available, plot location, birth date, birth place, death place, Jewish date of death, age, Jewish name, spouse’s name, father’s name, mother’s name and any other genealogically relevant data available.

The Colorado portion of the project was begun in 2003 by Ellen Shindelman Kowitt. JGSCO intends to update and widen cemetery coverage in 2021 and beyond. Volunteers of the JGSCO have provided online access to over 22,000 Jewish burials in 19 cemeteries throughout Colorado; 18,000 of which include a photograph of the gravestone. Entered into the  JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR) is a database of names and other identifying information from Jewish cemeteries and burial records worldwide. JOWBR's aim is to catalog extant data about Jewish cemeteries and burial records worldwide. Some photographs of the gravestones (matzevot) are included in the database.


In 2003, Ellen began by documenting information from the Golden Hill Cemetery in west suburban Denver. Terry Lasky took over the project in 2004 and completed the documentation of all Jewish cemeteries and Jewish sections of non-sectarian cemeteries in the state of Colorado. The information for the Colorado burials consisted of plot location, surname, given name, death date, and when available, Jewish name, Jewish date of death, age, spouse’s name and parents names. A picture of the gravestone also accompanied each Colorado burial entry.

The information was collected in a variety of ways. The cemetery or synagogue in charge was contacted in order to provide a written listing of all burials. This was supplied in computerized form, handwritten on paper or on 3x5 cards. A few cemeteries had no recorded information at all. The data was taken from these records and entered into a master Excel spreadsheet. Each cemetery was visited in person where photographs were taken of every gravestone. The visibly inscribed information on gravestones was combined with the written cemetery records and entered into the master spreadsheet. Volunteers then translated Hebrew or Russian inscriptions and incorporated that into the record as well. The final spreadsheet and gravestone photos were submitted to JewishGen for inclusion in JOWBR.

The project was then expanded to include Jewish burials in neighboring states where additional volunteers were enlisted. The project was completed in 2009 when all Jewish burials in Utah, New Mexico, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota were added to the database. The final total completed by volunteers of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado was over 90 cemeteries with 60,000 burials and 35,000 gravestone photos.

Read a 2006 Intermountain Jewish News article about this project.

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Jewish Consumptives Relief Society (JCRS) Patient Application Index 1904-1954 at DU - SEARCH HERE FREE

The JCRS Patient Application Database covers years of admission from 1904-1940 and contains 7,190 records. Searchable data on JewishGen includes surname, given name, name variation, gender, age at admittance, birth city, birth place, when came to the USA, occupation, contracted (disease) location, marital status, landsmanshaften affiliation, burial location and relative names. If a record is listed in the index, the full patient file can then be requested through the Beck Archives at the University of Denver, by contacting Thyria Wilson at (303) 871-3012 . Patients who were in the hospital after 1940 can only be researched by phone inquiry.

What is the Jewish Consumptives Relief Society?

The Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society (JCRS) was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1904 as a non-sectarian sanatorium to treat tuberculosis (TB) patients in all stages of the disease. The society was founded by a group of immigrant Eastern European Jewish men, many of whom were themselves victims of TB. For decades patients flocked to Denver from all over North America and were admitted free of charge. In the early years, the sanatorium was headed by Dr. Charles Spivak as Secretary (1904-1927) and by Philip Hillkowitz as President (1904-1948) and catered primarily to Jewish patients in a distinctively Jewish environment. In 1954 the institution changed its mission to cancer research and became the American Medical Center.

The collection housed at the Univeristy of Denver Penrose Library includes correspondence, patient records, minutes, reports, and photographs from 1904 through 1973. The JCRS records shed light on issues of tuberculosis treatment and medical history, immigration and acculturation, the growth and development of Colorado's Jewish community, and women's history.

The genealogical importance of this collection is significant. A standard patient file often includes the original application, landsmanshaften affiliation, and personal correspondence between the hospital, patient and a patient's family in other U.S. and Canadian cities. There are often names and addresses of relatives, ages of the patient's children, location of burial in Denver, and the city of patient's birth in a variety of foreign countries. The earliest death dates in this collection are equally important since the state of Colorado did not always issue death certificates at the turn of the twentieth century making the JCRS patient file the only record of death in some cases. 

Patient records from 1905 and 1906 have been digitized and the images can be viewed online. Additional patient names for years 1907 through 1938 have also been entered into the database, but the documents have not yet been digitized. Patient records can be viewed by clicking on names in an alphabetical list and also through the searchable database.

The JCRS Online Patient Indexing Project was awarded the Malcolm Stern Award by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies in 2002 for the creation of this database. The Stern Award honors Malcolm H. Stern, widely considered to be the dean of American Jewish genealogy, and his efforts to increase the availability of resources for Jewish genealogical research. The Stern Award is a funding award given to encourage institutions to pursue projects, activities and acquisitions that provide new or enhanced resources to benefit Jewish genealogists. It has been awarded since 1991.

If you locate a patient record of interest in the index, you can contact the D.U. Judaic Studies Department to make a photocopy of the original file.

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Intermountain Jewish News (IJN) Obituary Index on JewishGen

Searchable data for 15,348 records is available on and includes reference to the newspaper date, surname, given name, death date, age at death, burial location, birth date, birth place, death place, surnames of relatives, and whether there is a photo. If a record is found listed in the index, copies of the full newspaper obituary can then be accessed on microfilm at the Denver Public Library Central Branch, the Colorado History Museum, and at the offices of the Intermountain Jewish News.

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Colorado Synagogue Memorial Plaques Index on JewishGen

The JewishGen Memorial Plaques Project is a searchable database of more than 100,000 names and other identifying information from Jewish synagogue and memorial records ("Yahrzeit Plaques") worldwide. It is a compilation of two linked databases: a database of memorial plaques, and a database of information about each particular synagogue. The Memorial Plaques Project's aim is to catalog extant data about Jewish synagogues and memorial records worldwide.

In Colorado, information has been indexed by JGSCO volunteers for Congregation Har HaShem and Congregation Bonai Shalom in Boulder and Congregation Har Shalom in Fort Collins. Please be patient and note that there are delays uploading material to the database.

JGSCO volunteers are currently working to index Temple Rodef Shalom in Denver and Congregation Beth Evergreen. Please contact if you would like to organize a Memorial Plaque Indexing project at your Colorado synagogue.

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Cotopaxi Settlers Index

In 1882, a large colony of immigrant Russian Jews settled in Cotopaxi, Colorado. They were misled that farming was good in the area. These individuals endured difficult hardships and the settlement lasted less than three years because it was too arid to farm. Many descendants moved on to live in other areas of Colorado, notably in Denver. A KehilaLinks page on JewishGen describes this colony in detail.

Urged by DPL Genealogy Librarian James Jeffrey, JGSCO member Ellen Shindelman Kowitt compiled a surname index based on the 1950 thesis written by Flora Jane Satt at C.U. The original, unpublished manuscript is held at the Denver Public Library Genealogy Department. A copy of the thesis and this name index containing 123 unique individuals are also available at the JGSCO library at Congregation Emanuel. A webpage about the Russian Jewish Colony in Cotopaxi created by Nelson Moore has the partial text of Flora Jane Satt's unpublished thesis "The Cotopaxi Colony" online. There are also a number of photographs and general information about the settlement.

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The Atwood Colony by Naomi Johnson, 2013

The first time I heard about Atwood was during a Jewish Genealogical Society of Colorado meeting several years ago. The group was asked if anyone had information they could share with the library in Sterling, Colorado about this Jewish colony that was located in Atwood, Colorado in the late 1890s. Atwood is about 120 miles northeast of Denver; 90 miles east of Greeley, or about 7 miles southwest of Sterling. It is thought that all the Jewish settlers left that area in the early 1900s due to lack of assets with which to successfully farm there.

My interest was piqued and I started to delve into researching this project through resources I could obtain through UNC’s Michener Library (where I work) and information procured from any descendants of these settlers.

My first contacts, Alan Gass of Denver and Nina Judd of Boulder provided me with many connections as well as did Jeanne Abrams and Thyria of the Jewish Historical Society at Denver University.The information comes from newspapers, books, pamphlets and from personal accounts that were either written or audio that was recorded.

I do plan to eventually visit the area and delve into documents from the Logan County Courthouse and to visit the cemetery at Atwood. It states in one of the sources that a Jewish cemetery exists behind the school house in Atwood. I do plan to eventually visit the area, and see if this cemetery still exists and to delve into documents in the Logan County Courthouse.

Since there were no formal records kept from this colony, and the personal accounts are quite contradictory, I welcome anyone with more information to send me corrections to my email and I will rectify errors or add information. Even the newspaper cannot be relied on, since one reporter erroneously calls the town “Edward” throughout the article! Early accounts say that there were about 200 settlers in Atwood, but my cumulative accounts can name only about 20. It would be wonderful to add names to the list so that more can be accounted for.

Research reports:

Atwood Colony: A Historical Compilation

Atwood Colony: Excerpts from newspapers and publications

Atwood Colony: Historical Research

Atwood Colony: Personal Narratives

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Colorado Mohel Records Index

To date, the Colorado Mohel Records Index includes the circumcision records of Dr. John Elsner (1867-1905) and Rabbi Leopold Freudenthal (1874-1909). Elsner was based in Denver but travelled throughout what was Colorado Territory and Wyoming performing circumcisions. There are 169 entries in this digitized copy of a handwritten journal. Organized by date of each circumcision, the male child’s Jewish name, his father’s English first and last names, the age of the child on that date and the location of the ritual are included. All entries were written in English but Jewish names were variations in the spelling of traditionally Hebrew or Yiddish names. The original manuscript is held at DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. 

Rabbi Freudenthal was the rabbi for the reform Congregation Aaron in Trinidad, Colorado. The original copy of this circumcision registry is held at the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati. 224 entries are included in a digitized copy of the original handwritten journal. The Jewish name of the male child and his father’s first and last names in English are included.

According to descendants and local historical accounts, other Colorado mohels included: 

  1. Other early circumcisions might have been performed by Dr. D.O. Heimberger or Rabbi Elkin of Temple Emanuel. (Uchill p. 45) The existence of these records is unknown.
  2. After 1880, it is likely that the Orthodox used the shochet Rabbi Arager for circumcisions (p. 225 Uchill).
  3. Dov Rubin (of Jerusalem, Israel) corresponds that his great grandfather Berel Wolf KIMMEL was a mohel in Denver for five years during the 1890s before returning to Kishinev by 1899.
  4. Werner S. Prenzlau, M.D. was known as the “flying mohel” who traversed 12 states in 30 years circa 1949-1979 (Shapiro p. 132). 
  5. Ivan Geller and Jay Feder 303-534-0251 were contemporary mohels.
  6. JGSCO members Gail Dym and Sandy Lustig tell us that Charles HELLER was a mohel in Denver circa 1930-1965 and that other mohels were Btzeil BARASH and Yankel GORDON.
  7. JewishGen lists four Colorado Jewish gravestone inscriptions with the words mohel. These may provide clues to the identity of other local mohels. These are the gravestones of:
  • Rev. Jacob Gorden, died 1977 - "Head and gabbai of the congregation, shokhet and mohel.
  • Deborah Pelton, died 1893 - "Devora bat David the mohel(?)
  • Rev. Max Robinson
  • Rev Jacob Tamarkin, died 1919 - "Yaakov Tamarkin shochet and mohel ben reb David."

These and other Colorado mohel records have not been identified. If you have information about the whereabouts of historical mohel records, please contact Ellen Kowitt for JGSCO volunteers to help with creating a searchable online index to them.

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Participation in the Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies (CCGS)

JGSCO has been a member of the Colorado Council of Genealogical Societies for 20+ years.  CCGS facilitates cooperation among heritage-related organizations and addresses the needs and interests of the Colorado genealogy community through support member organizations.  The various Colorado Societies share information about workshops and special programming which aides in understanding each other's heritages. 

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The Jewish Genealogical Society (JGS) of Colorado is a leader in education, research, information exchange forums, and resources for Jewish genealogy.

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