Kesher: The West Side Jewish Connection

West Colfax Neighborhood Is Denver’s Own Little Brooklyn

By Rowena Alegría

January 2024

Starting some 150 years ago, Jews from Germany and then Russia built a community in Denver’s West Colfax neighborhood that has been compared to Brooklyn in the way that merchants, educators and neighbors came together, with a grocery store on every corner and businesses that not only provided, for example, kosher foods but also kept their ovens warm for Sabbath dinners. A former resident who grew up on “the street of little porches” called it a Brigadoon of miraculous blessings. But times change, beliefs and circumstances evolve, and people move on. With its chain restaurants, high-rises and high prices, not to mention a whole new population of people unaware of the neighborhood’s history, gentrification is the latest threat. The Office of Storytelling’s documentary team of three journalists spent about a month embedded in what remains a predominantly Orthodox community. We visited homes, schools and synagogues and worked to gain the trust of a historian, rabbis, leaders, and residents past and present, gathering their personal stories and historical accounts on camera. The resulting documentary celebrates a small group with a significant legacy.

A special thanks goes to City Council President Jamie TorresPresident Pro Tem Amanda Sandoval and Historic Denver, who partnered with HRCP's Denver Office of Storytelling to create this film, which was funded in part through the Denver Economic Development & Opportunity’s Neighborhood Activation Program through the American Rescue Plan Act.

The funding allowed for the contributions of local artists, including an original score composed by Shawn King of DeVotchka; animations and graphics created by 3-D motion designer Luis Miranda; and additional cinematography and drone footage from José Guzmán.