About The History of the Hebrew Educational Alliance
The formative years of the Congregation Hebrew Educational Alliance began with the merger of the Denver Hebrew Institute and the Beth David Sisterhood in 1928. These two groups, organized during the 1920s, were formed to provide a Jewish education for the children of the West Side of Denver, whose families worshiped at a number of small, immigrant synagogues in the neighborhood. For the next four years, funds were raised and a building was erected at the corner of Meade Street and West Colfax Avenue.
On October 25, 1932, the leadership of the H.E.A. gathered at Union Station to greet Rabbi Manuel Laderman, a newly ordained rabbi, and welcome him to the institution that he would lead for almost half a century. From the beginning, Rabbi Laderman insisted that the Hebrew Educational Alliance be a synagogue, and not merely a religious school.
Rabbi Laderman's personality and athletic abilities were a magnet to the youth of the West Side. Over the years, the Alliance flourished and Rabbi Laderman became a major force, not only in the Jewish community, but also in the wider Denver community. Upon Rabbi Laderman's retirement in 1979, Rabbi Daniel Goldberger assumed the leadership of the Alliance. Rabbi Goldberger's stellar reputation attracted many members of the Jewish community to travel across town to affiliate with the Alliance. Under the leadership of the Rabbi, a renewed dynamism came to the Alliance. The religious school grew, new adult educational programs were developed, and though the majority of members had long since moved to east and southeast Denver, the congregation enjoyed fifteen years of stability and success.
Upon Rabbi Goldberger's retirement in 1994, the Alliance formalized its theological transition by its affiliation with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Plans were made to secure the services of a young, Conservative rabbi to not only lead the congregation spiritually, but to help the Alliance physically move from the West Side to southeast Denver.
In August 1994, Rabbi Bruce Dollin assumed the position of rabbi. For two years, the Rabbi, together with the lay leadership of the congregation, made and implemented plans to sell the building on Stuart Street and raise the necessary funds to purchase land and erect a building in southeast Denver. On November 16, 1996, members and friends of the Alliance gathered for their first Shabbat service in the new congregational home. Over this same period, Rabbi Dollin not only lead the physical transition of the Alliance, but also implemented the active participation of women into the worship services of the synagogue.
Under Rabbi Dollin's leadership, the congregation grew to nearly 1,000 households. The number of yearly b'nai mitzvah increased from five or six to over fifty. The Religious School grew from an enrollment of 60 to 200 students, and a Preschool was formed which currently has over 150 students. Three youth groups were initiated and in August 2007, the 6,000 sq. ft. Goldberger Youth Center was opened.
The Alliance of today differs in location, theology and size from the Alliance of the 1930s through 1990s. However, the one continuous quality that has remained consistent throughout these seven decades is the warmth and welcome that has made the Hebrew Educational Alliance the spiritual home for generations of Denver Jews.
CONTINUITY & TRANSITION
Message From Our Executive Director
Continuity and transition, two apparently contradictory terms, are blended together in the beauty of the Hebrew Educational Alliance. From its West Side inception in the early 1930s, the Alliance was viewed as a warm caring institution. The Alliance was the place where children's Jewish educational needs were met, where families joined together in fellowship and worship, and the stranger would be welcomed into the "family." Through the many decades and the move to southeast Denver, the importance of the individual, the family, and the community never changed. However, in order to continue to meet these needs, a number of transitions took place.
Young families no longer flock to live on the West Side. The role of women in American society and in the Jewish community changed. In order to meet the needs of the Jewish community, the Alliance went through a number of incremental steps. The building on the West Side was sold, temporary facilities were rented, and a magnificent new synagogue was built. Theologically, women became full participants in public worship, and the joy of celebrating a young girl's Bat Mitzvah became a part of the regular Shabbat morning service.
With change come growing pains. A religious school, which suddenly grows from 60 students to 250 students, provides both opportunities and challenges. The needs of young families may differ from elderly couples. Yet with dynamic leadership, from laypersons, clergy and staff, the Alliance is meeting the challenges of change, and continuing its heritage of service to its membership and the community.
Neal S. Price, Executive Director