By Katherine Kasckow
May 24, 2017
In Wyoming there are two major synagogues: Temple Beth-el in Casper and Mt. Sinai Synagogue in Cheyenne. Mt. Sinai synagogue has provided a space for the Jewish community since 1915, when the original cornerstone was laid on Pioneer avenue and 20th Street. The original location of the synagogue was the first permanent Jewish house of worship in Wyoming. The congregation moved in 1951 to their current location.
The original congregation at Mt. Sinai Synagogue consisted of German and Eastern European Jews who had immigrated to the United States with the help of the Homestead act and the Jewish Agricultural Society. Once entering the United states, these populations would start to spread throughout the western region of the U.S. ending up as far as Wyoming. This would be around 1881 to 1914, when these populations made it to Cheyenne, creating a community that would need a place of worship.
After World War II ended, Wyoming provided a space once again for members of the Jewish community to settle within its cities. The arrival of new migrants made it necessary for the original synagogue to expand, leading to its relocation on Pioneer and 26th Street. This new expansion would include a sanctuary seating 450, a small sanctuary for daily prayer to accommodate 30, a social hall for dinners; a full kosher kitchen facility, several classrooms, and a Rabbi study. These new features offered the new and old members space that the old building did not provide. This would allow for bigger events and celebrations.
The three-story brick building stands prominently on the corner of the two intersecting streets. This Mid-century building offers its users a spectacular view with fifteen panes of stained glass windows in the main sanctuary, and twenty more windows in the southern wall depict various biblical highlights. The synagogue also offers other interesting features such as the “living” water in the building’s partial basement. According to the current Rabbi, Larry Moldo, this “additional advantage to the location was discovered during the pre-construction process. There is an underground stream of flowing water. This enabled easy construction of a kosher mikveh (ritual bath), and people from nearby cities in Colorado continue to make use of it.” This shows that this building not only serves the Jewish community in Cheyenne but also in the neighboring states.
At the moment, Mt. Sinai Synagogue is being considered for the National Register for Historic Places. For more information on Mt. Sinai Synagogue, please visit https://www.mtsinaicheyenne.org/
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