A pamphlet in the UA Library's Special Collections tells an historic story of the founding of the Montefiore cemetery in Las Vegas, New Mexico, in 1881 by Jewish pioneers. The cemetery is described as a mute testimony of Jewish presence in New Mexico since the European colonization in the 1500's. The story is told in photographs. There is also a plan and inventory of memorials. Contact Special Collections for more information.
Congregation Montefiore was the first Jewish congregation in New Mexico. Formed in 1884, it held dedication services on September 26, 1886, and formed New Mexico's second B'nai Brith chapter in 1902.
One may notice that in Albuquerque, a congregation followed the formation of a B'nai Brith Lodge, where as in Las Vegas, the congregation came first. Tobias noted that Las Vegas had a much larger and more established Jewish population by 1880 than Albuquerque. As a result, there was a greater family structure in place and more children needing formal religious education.
In October 1884, the Jewish community in Las Vegas formed a congregation and Joseph Glueck became its rabbi. In January 1886, the congregation began an appeal [see below] for a building fund and drew pledges from the members. Interestingly, Tobias wrote that half of the those pledging donations came from non-members. By the summer of 1884, a contract was signed with architects for a building and services were held dedicating the building on September 20, 1886. The congregation took the name Congregation Montefiore after Sir Moses Montefiore, the world famous British philanthropist.
A Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society was founded, perhaps as early as 1887, and its by-laws written in 1895. As noted earlier, the men formed a B'nai Brith chapter, Lodge No. 545, in 1902. [Tobias, HJNM:111-112]
Hear, Oh Israel! the Lord, Our God, is One God.
OUR APPEAL. Congregation Montefiore having determined to build a Temple, we respectfully ask your aid in order to enable us to complete the same. There being none in this Territory, therefore, the congregation has taken the task upon themselves to build a suitable place for worship. All that may favor us with their donations, their names will be placed on our Roll of Honor, which will be deposited in the archives of The Temple. We hope our efforts will be crowned with success, and our temple, when finished, will be an honor to ourselves and in the future an acceptable inheritance to the Children of Israel, whose aim it will forever be to perpetuate the principals and precepts of Judaism.
By order of the Congregation, the following named firms and persons are hereby authorized to receive donations and receipt for the same.
Joseph Rosenwald & Co.Chas. Ilfeld
Simon Lewis' Sons P.L. Strauss
N.L. Rosenthall & SonsIsidor Stern
Barash & BlockDavid Winternitz
Graaf & ThorpJake Block
H. Levey & Bro.Phil Holzman
S.L. Leon & Co.Hon. L. Sulzbacher
Myer Friedman & Bro.Emil Hersch, Esq.
Las Vegas, New Mexico
1886. [Organized, 1884.]