Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society - Lakewood, CO
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Outspoken1
N 39° 44.600 W 105° 04.180
13S E 494031 N 4399272
Quick Description: The Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (JCRS) of Denver helped to save thousands of lives with care and research into the '“white plague' as tuberculosis was named.
Location: Colorado, United States
Date Posted: 11/21/2012 3:54:37 PM
Waymark Code: WMFR1V
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 2

Long Description:
Of the 14 buildings originally in the 1980 NRHP form, the St. Louis Ladies Auxiliary Staff House (#8 on the NRHP form) has been demolished. The Tent has been moved just to the south of the Isaac Solomon Synagogue. The water tower still provides water for the entire campus and the new boilers in the power house power the campus. The New York Building (formerly the Men's Pavilion) is now a half-way house and fenced off from the rest of the JCRS Campus. You may access it by driving around the block. There are security guards, but they are very friendly and know a great deal about the campus' history. A database of the patients may be found at (visit link) .

"In the early 1900s, the West Colfax Jewish immigrant neighborhood was also augmented by an influx of impoverished immigrant Jews who came to “chase the cure” to seek a remedy for tuberculosis, the leading cause of death in the United States at that time. Colorado, with its dry and sunny climate, drew tuberculosis victims like a magnet and soon earned the nickname of “The World’s Sanatorium.” Since no publicly supported institutions for consumptives' existed at the turn of the century, the challenge of adequate care for these people was left to private institutions. The Jewish community was the first to come to their aid with the founding of the formally non-sectarian National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives', which opened in 1899. Founded largely by acculturated, well- to-do German Reform Jews in Denver, the sanatorium treated all patients free of charge. Its motto was “None May Enter Who Can Pay, None Can Pay Who Enter,” reflecting its benevolent origins. However, NJH generally treated only patients with incipient tuberculosis and lacked a kosher kitchen in the early years. Moreover, many of the East European immigrant Jews felt their German co-religionists often acted in a condescending manner to the newcomers who brought with them their “Old World” manners, language, religious customs, and dress.

In 1903 a group of Jewish working class immigrants in the West Colfax neighborhood banded together for form the Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society to treat patients in all stages of the disease in a more Jewish environment and managed to raise $1.10 between them to launch the institution. They were joined by several prominent local Jewish east European physicians, most notably Dr. Charles Spivak, who served as the executive secretary of the JCRS from 1904 until his death in 1927, and Dr. Philip Hillkowitz, who served as president of the JCRS from 1904 until his death in 1948. Dr. Hillkowitz’s father, Rabbi Elias Hillkowitz was regarded as the “dean” of the west side Orthodox Jewish rabbis in the early years of the twentieth century.

The JCRS opened its doors in September of 1904 with seven patients housed in white wooden tent-cottages to maximize their exposure to fresh air. Animated by traditional Jewish imperatives of tzedakah (commonly translated as charity but more literally meaning justice) its motto taken from the Talmud, “He Who Saves One Life Saves the World,” personified its philosophy. Over the next fifty years the JCRS provided all of its services free of charge and 10,000 patients would pass through its doors before it changed its mission to cancer treatment. It was formally non-sectarian, but for its first decades the majority of patients at the institution (as was the case at NJH) were east European Jews, many who helped swell Denver’s Jewish population which rose to about 15,000 by 1912. Located on West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood, Colorado, the JCRS sanatorium served as a beacon of hope to thousands of victims of tuberculosis from throughout the United States." (excerpted from (visit link) )

"The JCRS Sanitarium was established in the early 20th century in what is now Lakewood, a western suburb of Denver. JCRS, or the Jewish Consumptives' Relieft Society, was organized by a group of working men who were frustrated with the policies of the other tuberculosis sanitarium in Denver, National Jewish Hospital, which refused to serve kosher meals, discouraged the use of Yiddish, and for a time (because of the fear of being swamped by destitute patients) only accepted sufferers with incipient tuberculosis and those who could afford to support themselves once they left the hospital.

The organization and success of JCRS was due in large part to the efforts of Dr. Charles Spivak, a local legend, and Yehoash (Solomon Bloomgarten), who came to Denver to "chase the cure" in 1899. Starting around 1906, Yehoash presided over the Yiddish section of the 'Sanitorium,' a JCRS publication, including his own poetry and that of "Lung-fellow" as well as using graphics designed by the Bezalel School in then-Palestine. (Spivak and Yehoash, lovers of Yiddish, are famous for their dictionary of Hebrew elements in Yiddish).

I've started researching Denver's Yiddish history. So far my search has yielded the Yiddish sections of the 'Sanitorium' (which deserve to be translated), and record books of the Arbeter Ring, Branch 957, from 1941 through 1962. I also visited the Golden Hill Cemetery, also in Lakewood, to find the graves of Dr. Spivak and David Edelstadt, another Yiddish poet and an anarchist, who died of t.b. around 1892. Edelstadt's grave (a monument) was inscribed with one of his poems and a photograph of the poet. Spivak's grave was adjacent; Spivak donated his skeleton to the Hebrew University. The upper part of the cemetery contained the graves of the patients who didn't beat the "white plague;" many, unfortunately, are marked only with small metal plaques, now unreadable.

The Penguin Book of Modern Yiddish Verse has several poems by Leyvik, including one entitled "Sanitorium" ("Efn Zikh, Toyer" in Yiddish).

As a final note, my zeyde, suffering from t.b. circa 1918, was invited to recuperate at JCRS, which would have meant a long trek with family from Syracuse, N.Y. My bubbe nixed the idea; she didn't want to leave her own mishpokhe and "live with the cowboys."

Thanks to Jeanne Abrams, Director of the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society, for the information about JCRS." (from (visit link) )
Street address:
1600 Pierce St
Lakewood, CO USA

County / Borough / Parish: Jefferson

Year listed: 1980

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event, Person, Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1925-1949, 1900-1924

Historic function: Domestic, Education, Health Care

Current function: Domestic, Education, Health Care

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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