The Jewish community’s history in Pueblo is almost as old as Pueblo itself. Though always a small percentage of Pueblo’s population, Jewish families have been very active in the community. Simon Nathan and his family moved to Pueblo, Colorado in 1867 after Simon’s failed attempt as a gold prospector on the upper Arkansas River at a site known as California Gulch. Soon after his arrival, Simon opened a store in downtown Pueblo and according to the 1870 census, Simon’s family was just one of twelve Jewish families that made Pueblo their home.

Between the years of 1867 and 1870, another Jewish businessman, by the name of Abraham Jacobs would own and operate the Denver-Pueblo stagecoach line. With the discovery of large coalfields in Southern Colorado, this stagecoach filled a need that allowed Pueblo to grow into the second most populous city in Colorado. The Denver-Pueblo stagecoach line would remain highly successful until the completion of Palmer’s D&RG railroad that connected Denver and Pueblo via the rail.

By 1880 the first minyan (a minyan being the minimum number of adult male Jews needed to hold a religious service) and first Jewish prayer service was held at a place known locally as “Mad Sam’s.” Around this time and continuing until 1913, a large number of Jewish families began to migrate to Colorado from Eastern Europe and Russia, leaving behind poverty and violent pogroms in search of lucrative jobs promised by CC&I which would later be known as CF&I.

In 1882, the city of Pueblo was home to about 20 Jewish families and even though that was a tiny fraction of Pueblo’s total population, they set out to improve the city. In March of that year, this small Jewish community would found Lodge #331 of the B’nai B’rith known locally as the Twin Cities Lodge. Three years later in 1885, 35 Jewish families of the Jewish communities created the Hebrew Benevolent Union with the over-arching goal of helping Pueblo’s needy no matter their religious affiliation.

Even with such a small , tightknit community, a fissure would appear a few years later and destroy the solidarity in Pueblo’s Jewish community. In 1894, the Jewish community would completely split into two distinct groups (The B'nai Jacob Congregation and the Temple Emanuel Congregation) with reform Jews and Orthodox Jews forming their own congregations. In 1895, the B’nai Jacob congregation would start meeting at the Labor Temple while continuing to lobby for Jewish unity and reunification. Some progress was made to reunite the Jewish community in Pueblo but, in 1899, Orthodox Rabbi Patechiniski came to Pueblo to conduct the High Holliday Services and the result of his visit and sermon was the further polarization of Pueblo’s Jewish community. So, later that same year, with hopes of reunification crushed, the Temple Emanuel was incorporated.

In January of 1900 it was made public that the new Jewish temple would be built by the Emanuel congregation on the corner of twelfth and Grand Ave. at the cost of twelve thousand dollars. Nine months later, the Temple Emanuel was dedicated by Rabbi Hirch of Chicago. The Newspaper, “The American Israelite” reported about the fine work that was done in the temple and how the congregation should be proud of their new place of worship. Meanwhile, with reunification off the table and the building of Temple Emanuel, the B’nai Jacob congregation saw no choice but to incorporate, (1902) hire their own Rabbi, (Eastern European born Phillip Block in 1905) and build their own place of worship. In 1908 the B’nai Jacob congregation began work on the Second Street Synagogue at the cost of six thousand dollars.

At this time there was around 150 Jewish families split between the two major congregations living in Pueblo and once again the issue of reunification would take center stage in the Jewish community. The B'nai congregation was the most vocal of the two groups in their desire to reunify Pueblo's Jewish community; the Temple Emanuel was not so enthusiastic. After a few fruitful meeting, the topic would stall and would ultimately be set aside with little hope of unification being possible. Since their was no progress with reunification, the B’nai Jacob congregation decided to set a new direction for the congregation and changed its name to the United Hebrew Center in 1950.

During this same period of time, the Temple Emanuel was donated a piece of adjoining land for a much needed expansion in 1945. Though the temple was still considered the Jewel of Pueblo, many of the temple's congregation felt it was time to update the almost 50 year old temple to meet more modern demands. Grand plans were put into motion but it would be years before any upgrade would be even started, let alone completed. Fifteen years later, in 1960, the Temple Emanuel finally began work on its planned expansion and, in 1964, that expansion was completed and dedicated.

In 1980, the Jewish community, under the leadership of Joe Gotfred, convinced city council to approve a monument to commemorate the Jewish victims of Hitler. This Holocaust memorial would be built and dedicated in Pueblo’s Mineral Park in 1981. The monument reads, “In memory of the countless victims of the Holocaust, 1939-1945.”

Today, the Temple Emanuel is still a place of worship in Pueblo with a small congregation of 30 families. In the 1990’s the temple went through a complete renovation and was rededicated in December of 2000.