Jews of New Mexico

Jews of New Mexico

JEWS OF NEW MEXICO

Jewish history in New Mexico goes back, it has been argued, to the founding of the colony. There is evidence that some contemporary New Mexican Hispanics may be descended from “Crypto-Jews” or Marranos. These would have been Sephardic Jews during the 15th and 16th century who, under penalties of the inquisition, were forced to convert to Catholicism; yet still retained certain cultural markers of Jewish identity.

Temple Montefiore, Las Vegas, NM - First Jewish House of Worship in NM

Temple Montefiore, Las Vegas, NM –

First Jewish House of Worship in NM

Facing enormous consequences if caught, the “conversos” who chose to continue practicing Jewish rituals and identity found themselves forced to the edge of the Spanish Empire, or the New Mexican colonies of the Southwest.   Though the evidence is controversial, there have been both ethnographic and genetic pieces of evidence linking the latino culture of New Mexico with Jewish descent.  There are oral accounts of keeping practices like Kosher slaughter and celebration of the sabbath as well as DNA evidence.  One genetic study of 78 latino New Mexicans centering on Albuquerque found 30 displaying genetic markers associated with Jewish descent, markers found in only 1% of the general population.

Temple Beth Shalom, Santa Fe, NM

Temple Beth Shalom,

Santa Fe, NM

The history of Ashkenazic Jews in New Mexico is more recent and less controversial.  Like many pioneers, they welcomed the opportunities present with the opening of the Southwest and the United States’ control over the New Mexico territory.  Trade routes that were oriented to Mexico and were zealously guarded by Spanish policy became disrupted as New Mexico began to orient itself with the greater American market and economy.

Jewish heritage places high values on learning and education, and with a propensity for business, these immigrants were able to grow in prominence in the mercantile trade.

Some of the Jewish families who responded to these opportunities were the Bibo family, ten siblings who immigrated to New Mexico during the 1870s.  Three of them started mercantile businesses.  Jewish traditions of helping out family and relatives led to increased immigration as Jews prospered and sent for their families back east.  The Spiegelberg family, for instance, was a major influence in the territorial economy.  Wili Spiegelberg was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the Second National Bank of Santa Fe.  The Spiegelbergs provided work and welcome for many Jewish immigrants, employing several members of the Bibo family and welcoming their cousins, the Zeckendorfs, who opened several stores in Santa Fe and one in Albuquerque.

After the Civil War, however, business got tougher and the Zeckendorfs headed to Tucson and opened a store there. Eventually they migrated back to New York where they became successful real-estate developers. In the 1980s, Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf returned again to Santa Fe and became leading developers and patrons of the arts, instrumental in both the growth of the Santa Fe Opera and the creation of the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

The Jewish community remains a vibrant one in Santa Fe and one which visitors can explore. During your next stay at the Inn, be sure to take a trip to the Santa Fe Opera House and the Lensic Performing Arts Center – two Santa Fe landmarks that exist today thanks to the hard work and dedication of my friends, the Zeckendorfs.

Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, Dear Friends of Joe Schepps

Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, Friends of Joe Schepps

Inn on the Alameda, That Enchanting Small Hotel in Old Santa Fe, proudly presents all historical blog posts written by Joe & Michael Schepps. Read about the authors here.

During your next stay at the Inn, be sure to take a trip to the Santa Fe Opera House

or the Lensic Performing Arts Center – two Santa Fe landmarks that exist today thanks to the hard work and dedication of my friends, the Zeckendorfs.

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World Class Art in Santa Fe

World Class Art in Santa Fe

World Class Art in Santa Fe

There is a building in downtown Santa Fe that houses a world class collection of contemporary art, a building that is itself an example of the cultural synthesis that defines Santa Fe style and New Mexico culture: The New Mexico Museum of Art. Located within an easy walk to the Inn on the Alameda, the Museum offers exciting and challenging exhibits of contemporary art coupled with a permanent collection featuring many of the artists and artworks that define New Mexico.

NM Museum of Art Exterior

The structure housing this collection is itself a work of art. The incorporation of Santa Fe into the United States had brought architectural styles that were largely incongruous with the cultural surroundings. The exposure of modern trained architects in the early 20th century to the organic forms of Puebloan architecture resulted in a revolutionary synthesis of styles known as Pueblo Revival. Consciously building on the historical innovations of the Spanish Colonial era and the Pueblo peoples’ monumental structures, the Pueblo Revival movement helped define Santa Fe for the coming 20th century.

The New Mexico Museum of Art

The New Mexico Museum of Art is a masterpiece of this movement. Designed by New York-born architect Isaac Rapp, known as the “creator of the Santa Fe style,” this 1917 building has become an iconic example of Santa Fe architecture, melding elements of all the defining cultural influences in New Mexican society into a cohesive and attractive whole.

Georgia O’Keeffe – Lake George Reflection 1921 – 22

The permanent holdings of the collection are devoted to the history of contemporary New Mexican art. They include the Cinco Pintores, Georgia O’Keefe, the Taos Society and Gustave Baumann. The museum also has an extensive collection of American photography and multimedia works.

It is a world class artistic institution that has been home to numerous travelling shows challenging exhibits on the nature and function of contemporary artistic representation and media, and a continuance of their mission to expand their holdings.

Few exhibits better represent the complex and continuing mission of the museum than that of their past show: “Hunting + Gathering: New Additions to the Museum’s Collection” that exhibited in 2015. It was an illuminating exhibit designed to educate visitors to the complexity of the roles of “museum” and “observer,” the duty to challenge as well as curate, and the necessity to adapt and evolve to a very changing cultural and academic landscape. Encompassing multiple forms, the exhibit highlights works of sculpture, photography, prints, textiles, painting and mixed media, and displays them in a way as to challenge the viewer.

“Classic” pieces such as Ansel Adams’ photographs and Gustave Baumann’s paintings are juxtaposed with more challenging items such as Barbara Diener’s hauntingly composed and staged photographs and Sarah Magnuson’s evocative structures made of butterfly wings preserved under glass. These contrasts help to define for the viewer the paradoxes and challenges apparent within the collection, and hopefully, present a cohesive whole greater than the sum of their parts. This cohesion is mirrored in the Pueblo Revival building that houses it.

Gustave Baumann - El Rito Canon

The New Mexico Museum of Art is a quick 5-minute drive or 10-minute walk from the Inn via Paseo de Peralta, a main thoroughfare on the north side of town. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays 10am-5pm and welcomes visitors for free admission on Friday’s from 5-8pm, May through October, and the first Friday of the month, November through March.

Discover other amazing cultural offerings here in Santa Fe

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Get Your Kicks – On Route 66

Get Your Kicks – On Route 66

Route 66 actually came through Santa Fe at one time, quite a while back. That was before WW2 when most highways led right into town squares connecting towns across the nation. Now this iconic US Highway runs “2,000 miles all the way” and follows a much straighter shot from Chicago to L.A. with stops along the way to St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Gallup (“New Mexico”) Flagstaff (“Arizona”) Winona (“Don’t forget Winona!”) Kingsman, (“Arizona”), Barstow and San Bernadino. These are the bare bone lyrical highlights of the equally iconic “Route 66” written by Bobby Troup in 1946, just one year after the end of WW2. The year before America launched the most phenomenal boom in her economy, quickly producing jobs, home and automobile ownership, disposable income, natty clothes and “gas money.” This song has to be a part of American history if Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones can all record it.

Deep down in the American psyche, an inherent American mantra of “go West young man” emerged from the dusty times of the 19th century into post-war America. So when legendary Bobby Troup wrote this song in 1946, there were still open spaces, an open road, a sense of freedom from society, and the possible future of some day pulling out of a gas station in your 1960 Corvette with a buddy roaring west out of Gallup, New Mexico. It makes me shiver even still, especially when I get behind the wheel of my Smartcar and head off to Whole Foods!

Songwriter Troup hit the nail on the head in 1946. But more amazingly, his lyrics envisioned the future of our country, our love affair with the automobile and the open road. And he penned this song before television’s 1960 show “Route 66”. It is impossible for me with the inherent limits of a blog to do justice to the imagery and history of this highway; better just try googling up Route 66, where you can see restored gas stations, motels, cafes, souvenir stores, side-road attractions, new and old. I cannot list the hundreds of incredibly interesting historical, architectural, culinary, hospitality, educational and pure visual experiences still awaiting you today on Route 66, established 1926!

Road trips. When I was growing up in the very early 1950’s, some of my most vivid memories are of my family’s road trips in a Woody all over the country. I swear it was a Woody and have pictures to prove it… but we were not surfers in Dallas… it was just the first “station wagon” made, and my Dad knew they were cool, with or without surfboards sticking out the back. As we traveled though each state, and most were along Route 66, we would buy a glue-on souvenir of that state, and glue them right on the rear windows. They were so colorful, probably full of lead, and you could see through them from the inside. You often saw folks driving by with their back two side-windows covered in these multicolored mementos, eyeing your collection with keen interest.

vintage-woody

So, today if you ever plan to motor west, swing up from Route 66 to Santa Fe, our home, and visit one of the most unique and beautiful towns in the US, established 1607, your first stop has to be the Inn on the Alameda. It is a beautiful oasis of comfort where once the old west stopped at the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail. Even if you are still traveling west on that day and just passing through, stop and have a toast to America’s “Mother Road” at our fabulous Agoyo Lounge. Open for dinner and cocktails 5p.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.

We hope you book your next stay with us soon!

Stop and have a toast to America’s “Mother Road” at our fabulous Agoyo Lounge. Open for dinner and cocktails 5p.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily.

My First Opera

My First Opera

It was in the early 1980’s when I first attended the Santa Fe Opera, one of the most beautiful and most unique opera houses in the world. It is, perhaps, a side effect of coming of age during the 1960s that I can no longer remember exactly which opera I first saw, but the setting itself has always made an impression on me.

John Crosby, a musical genius from Manhattan (recently biographized by Santa Fe writer Craig Smith in A Vision of Voices: John Crosby and the Santa Fe Opera), had a dream of an outdoor summer opera company that would take advantage of the countless performers, musicians, conductors, and technicians who were annually idle when the Metropolitan Opera in New York City closed for the summer. He found the San Juan Ranch outside of Santa Fe and with his family was able to purchase what would become the location. He found the perfect acoustical setting and the rest is history.

 

santa-fe-opera-interior

What I remember most from my first opera was the setting.

The house is designed so the brilliantly dying light of the setting sun comes straight through the open but covered stage, a stunning backdrop for any opera.

Photo credit wikimedia commons

To the East, each evening, the image of the reddening Sangre de Cristo mountains attests to the appropriateness of their name. The otherworldly red of the foothills struck the Spanish settlers as evidence of the divine, the blood of Christ made manifest. It is these features that shelter the bowl of the opera house providing an appropriately awe-inspiring landscape upon which the fine arts of mankind can play themselves out. But I digress.

Book your room for any Opera showing now ~ receive a Split of Champagne & 2 slices of Opera cake to enjoy!

Since that first production, I try to see at least one opera per season, always the one recommended by Nancy Zeckendorf, my close friend and co-founding director of the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Nancy’s influence on me cannot be described. It was she who brought me onto the board of the opera in 1986, first to run the business fund drive, later as treasurer and chairman of the facilities committee.

Even still, I cannot remember my first opera’s name! It was a board-known fact that I never developed the deep understanding and knowledge of opera. Nevertheless, it was just as board-known that my enthusiasm and drive more than made up for my other shortcomings.

Besides, I was surrounded by people who knew everything about opera. My speech and drama background from college drove my interests more to the physical plant side of the performing arts, and therein lay the key to my interest in helping create Santa Fe’s finest and most versatile venue: the Lensic Performing Arts Center. Along with Bill and Nancy Zeckendorf, Patricia McFate, and Alexis Girard, the dream came true, a dream that is much more fitting to my strengths as a builder and developer (like Bill).

The Lensic offers such a variety of programming. To name a few: the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, the Lannan and Santa Fe Institute lecture series, the New Mexico Jazz Festival, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Met Live, and Performance Santa Fe. All valuable cultural institutions, all as worthwhile as the opera, and all of which I’ve attended.

As for opera, I have seen dozens since that first one now forgotten, and I’ve always been impressed and had a wonderful evening. And what it’s taught me is how communal and convivial an outing it is—before, during, and after. Operagoers—regulars and first-timers—typically turn a night at the opera into a nightlong experience, with drinks or dinner beforehand (the opening night tailgate at the Santa Fe Opera is legendary), food and libations at intermission (though moderately), or dinner and/or drinks afterward.

Which is why I heartily recommend our own Agoyo Lounge as the perfect complement—to the opera or any of the many other cultural events going on throughout Santa Fe. Come in for an early dinner (starting at 5:30–please call for reservations) or an aperitif beforehand, or if it’s a shorter performance, come by for a late dinner or digestif.

Whatever your taste in the arts, the tastes at the Agoyo are unsurpassed and you will always be pleased, just as I have at the many operas I have attended. I just wish I could remember that first one. No matter. What I do remember vividly is the first time I watched lightning and giant black rainstorms rolling into town past the SFO stage, which now, like the entire audience, is fortunately covered from the elements.

Book your room for any Opera showing now ~ receive a Split of Champagne & 2 slices of Opera cake to enjoy!

Experience the Museum of International Folk Art Santa Fe

Experience the Museum of International Folk Art Santa Fe

Located at 706 Camino Lejo on Santa Fe’s Museum Hill, the Museum of International Folk Art is part of the state of New Mexico museum system and a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. The museum holds the largest collection of international folk art in the world, numbering more than 130,000 objects from more than 100 countries. The core collection of 2,500 objects was donated by museum founder Florence Dibell Bartlett.

Since that time, the collection has been shaped in large part by the generous support of individuals, most notably Alexander and Susan Girard, with their gift of 106,000 objects, and Lloyd Cotsen’s Neutrogena Collection, consisting of 2,600 exceptional textiles and objects.

 

Alameda- dreamcatcher

Our collection continues to grow according to the belief that through the traditional arts, we may illuminate human creativity and shape a humane world. The museum is also family friendly, with multisensory experiences and a designated play area for kids.

Featured Exhibit

Beadwork Adorns the World
April 22, 2018 – February 3, 2019

Extraordinary how a small glass bead from the island of Murano (Venice, Italy) or the mountains of Bohemia (Czech Republic) can travel around the world, entering into the cultural life of people far distant.

Hours and Fees

Regular hours for the museum are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from May 1 through October 31.  From November 1 through April 30, the museum is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday through Sunday and is closed on Mondays. The museum is also closed on New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day

Alameda-museum

Admission fees are modest. For New Mexico residents, fees for adults and seniors 60 and older are $7; student fees are $6. Admission is free for children 16 and younger. Free admission for all New Mexico residents is available on the first Sunday of each month. Seniors are admitted free on each Wednesday. For nonresident adults and seniors, admission is $12; admission for students is $11, and for children 16 and younger, it’s free. 

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To learn more about experiencing all that Santa Fe offers, or for help planning your trip to the Inn on the Alameda,

Snow, Glorious Snow!

SNOW, GLORIOUS SNOW! The Pacific storms that have been soaking Southern California have been doing us a bit of good here in Northern New Mexico, and this past week was the perfect opportunity to strike out for the high country and see what nature has put...

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Fishing on the Pecos River

Fishing on the Pecos River

If you love to fish, Northern New Mexico may be your dream vacation. The Pecos River is an excellent location for both fly fishing and regular cast fishing, offering incredible fishing options just a short drive from Santa Fe.

The Pecos River is known for its Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout and Rio Grande Cutthroats. The river has benefited from extensive restoration and rehabilitation to restore native trout, helping make the Pecos a great place to fish in almost any season.

Inn on the alameda fly shing pecos

From the headwaters high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this cold, clear water flows 926 miles before it empties into the Rio Grande in Texas. The Browns run wild, and the river is continually stocked with Rainbows, making this a prime fly fishing location.  

Featured Exhibit

We recommend checking out the Orvis fishing report here for the most up-to-date information on weather, water and fishing conditions.

The Pecos offers some truly exceptional waters for casting in a beautiful setting. Let us help you plan your fishing trip.

To learn more about the Santa Fe area, or for help planning your trip to Inn on the Alameda, visit our website.

Snow, Glorious Snow!

SNOW, GLORIOUS SNOW! The Pacific storms that have been soaking Southern California have been doing us a bit of good here in Northern New Mexico, and this past week was the perfect opportunity to strike out for the high country and see what nature has put...

read more
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