Gorden, Jacob, 1887-1977
Jacob Gorden was born in Kolki, Russia, on June 15, 1887. He was a shochet (ritual slaughterer of Kosher meat), a mohel (one who performs the ritual circumcision), and a Talmudic scholar in Denver's West Side Jewish community. He and his wife Charlotte Gorden were leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community on Denver's west side and helped found the Hebrew Educational Alliance. Velvel Heller, Jacob Gorden's uncle, had established himself as a schohet in Denver. Velvel Heller wrote his nephew of the opportunities in Denver, and in 1914, Jacob decided to immigrate to Denver. Jacob Gorden became a schohet and, by 1917, had saved enough money to bring his wife, Charlotte Gorden, and their three-year-old daughter Bess to Denver. In the next few years, two more daughters and a son were born to the Gordens. Jacob Gorden also began work as a mohel in 1935. In 1944 Jacob Gorden was asked by Dr. Maurice Shapiro of Albuquerque to perform ritual circumcisions in New Mexico. In Albuquerque, a blindfold was placed over Jacob Gorden's eyes for the car ride to the secret destination. Jacob Gorden only told his wife where he had been after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. He could then tell his wife that he had been in Las Animas, New Mexico. In 1926, Charlotte Gorden, Mrs. Chernyk, and Mrs. S. Friedman began the Beth David Sisterhood to build a school for Jewish children. The Beth David Brotherhood was formed to help with fundraising, and the two groups founded the Beth Jacob Hebrew School at the Gorden home at 1490 Julian Street in 1929. The Denver Hebrew Institute was willing to merge with the new group, and the organization became the Hebrew Education Alliance (HEA), an Orthodox synagogue with a focus on Jewish Education. In 1932, Manuel Laderman became the long-term rabbi for the HEA. Jacob Gorden became a Reverend at the Hebrew Educational Alliance. The HEA opened the Hebrew High School in 1946. Charlotte Gorden died in Denver on February 6, 1960; After she died, Jacob married Mrs. Pearl Goldstein, who was born in Hungary. Jacob Gorden died at the age of eighty-nine on March 7, 1977.
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Brief biographies of Jewish Cowboys, Cattlemen, and Poultry Growers in Colorado. Written and directed by Jeanne Abrams for the 2015 RMJHS Dinner.