The world holds many faiths, each with special holidays that we are glad to celebrate, and one begins today….it’s Hanukkah!
New Mexico, like so many western outposts, has its Judaic history, with both travelers and businessman from the Old World and the eastern states streaming westward over the centuries for a variety of reasons. Some were Spaniards whose descendants trace their lineage back to “conversos,” Jews who converted by force or necessity to Christianity in Spain, pre- and post-inquisition. More recent times brought artists who thrived in the laid-back culture of northern New Mexico. And a community of Jewish merchants, mostly German, also traded in the state, particularly east of Santa Fe in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where heavy rail traffic made commerce easier. Las Vegas, NM, even maintains its Jewish burial ground, the Montefiore Cemetery, named for the noted British philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore.
Santa Fe’s Plaza area certainly benefitted from the energy, enterprise, ingenuity and generosity of its Jewish residents. Local lore holds that the first indoor bathroom in the city was in the home of a Jewish businessman who lived in the building now housing Peyton-Wright Gallery. And La Posada de Santa Fe grew out of the residence of the Staab family and even boasts the ghost of Julia Staab as an eternal resident. Longtime Santa Fe residents remember doing much of their holiday shopping at the downtown department stores begun by Jewish merchant families. And even above the massive front entrance to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis, one can see Santa Fe’s multicultural history, in a Hebrew inscription placed there by its guiding force, Bishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy, after Abraham Staab very generously donated additional funds to help finish the project.
Visitors to the City Different can find holiday worship services in a number of Santa Fe synagogues:
- Congregation Beit Tikva (Reform), 2230 Old Pacos Trail, (505) 820-2991
- Temple Beth Shalom (Reform), 205 East Barcelona, (505) 982-1376
- Chabad Jewish Center of Santa Fe (Chabad Lubavitch), 242 West San Mateo, (505) 983-2000
- Ha Makom (Conservative), 1601 South St. Francis Drive, (505) 992-1905
- Pardes Yisroel (Modern Orthodox), 1307 Don Diego, (505) 989-771
We honor the contributions of our past and present Jewish residents, who have added so much to the rich cultural mix that Santa Fe exemplifies.
Happy Hanukkah….Hanukkah Sameakh!