And you thought preserving history was just about extensive online databases.
Not so for History Professor Jeanne Abrams of the University of Denver. She has not only helped the Jewish community of Denver flourish over the last thirty years, but she has consistently added to its University Library Archives, its Center of Judaic Studies and the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society, where she sits as director.
“I focus on collecting materials from the Jewish experience of Rocky Mountain West,” Abrams explains. “I also do PR and educational programming for the community as well as fundraising for the society.”
Some of the most notable pieces in the collection include: beautiful wedding gowns from the early 1900’s, an early 1900’s Mantel from a Sefer Torah, a Challah brush from 1880s, and wonderful photos, including one from 1895 featuring the National Council of Jewish Women Women’s Picnic.
“Jewish life in Denver is very rich and textured. It began in 1859, with the city’s founding. In 2009, its 150th anniversary was celebrated both by the Jewish community and the Denver community at the same time. It is quite unusual that Jewish community is so directly a part of evolving city from its very beginning.”
Currently many of the most notable objects from the society are on display in a new library at the University and are also being exhibited in a traveling exhibit showcasing 350 years of Jewish life in America.
Abrams’ leadership in the Jewish community in Denver comes as no surprise. She and her husband, Lewis, were highly active in NCSY’s Har Sinai Region, both acting as regional presidents in the years subsequent to each other. NCSY is also how they met. Her husband has been working for over thirty years at the local Hillel Academy, teaching both limudei kodesh and limudei chol.
“NCSY played a very pivotal part in my life,” Abrams reminisces. “Rabbi Ginsburg, Z”LB, was very influential for me. Not only did NCSY contribute to my religious life, but to my organizational skills as well, since it provided me with my first opportunity to lead.”
And she continues to not just lead in the Jewish world; her most recent achievement was having her book, “Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health,” named as number seven of the Top Books for Docs for 2013 by Medscape. She also made sure that her four children were raised to lead in their communities as well, each now raising their own families in Dallas, Denver and Far Rockaway.
“Our kids went to day schools. We’re very proud of our roots and I’m proud to say that my husband and I are leaders of our Jewish community along with are our children.”