Beth HaMedrosh Hagodol-Beth Joseph
Beth HaMedrosh Hagodol-Beth Joseph, known locally as BMH-BJ or simply BMH, and for a period after 2012 also known as The Denver Synagogue, is a Modern Orthodox, Zionist synagogue in Denver, Colorado.
Beth HaMedrosh Hagodol (BMH-the Great House of Study) originated as a modern Orthodox synagogue in 1897 under the leadership of shoe merchant Henry Plonsky. BMH rented the original Temple Emanuel building at 19th and Curits for holiday services until it purchased the former home of Temple Emanuel in 1898. The building was severely damaged by fire in 1902.
Rabbi Charles Eliezer Hillel Kauvar came to BMH in 1902 and served until 1952. BMH laid the cornerstone of their new building on Rosh Hashanah 1916 and was a major civic event, drawing DU chancellor and former Colorado governor Henry Buchtel, Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey and former Denver School Superintendent William H. Smiley. The congregation occupied this building until 1966; after BMH left, the building served a variety of uses, falling into increasing disrepair before an extensive remodel in 2008 converted the building into a Messianic Christian church. In 1963, BMH secured 6.2 acres (25,000 m2) at 560 S. Monaco Parkway and the building was completed in 1969.
The congregation was a founding member of the United Synagogue of America (now called the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism), the primary organization of American Conservative Judaism. Rabbi Kauvar was the first vice-president of the organization, and BMH remained affiliated with the Conservative movement until 1955, when Rabbi Kauvar (by then serving as the emeritus rabbi) was influential in causing the congregation to leave the United Synagogue. BMH hired its first Orthodox rabbi in 1956. Stanley M. Wagner became the rabbi in 1972 and BMH joined the Orthodox Union, but it maintained several ritual practices not typically followed at OU-affiliates.
BMH's Monaco Parkway building was also the home of the Mizel Museum of Judaica, a museum co-founded by Denver businessman Larry Mizel, from the museum's founding in 1982 until it relocated in 2002.
Prior to resigning its affiliation with the Orthodox Union (OU) at the end of 2015, it was the only OU affiliated synagogue in the country without a mechitza, thus allowing men and women to sit together. It was the only surviving example of a seating style that had previously been present in a substantial number of Orthodox Union affiliated synagogues, and resigned from the OU after learning the organization planned to expel them over the mixed seating issue. Today, BMH-BJ describes itself as an "independent orthodox congregation".
- "BMH-BJ unveils a new logo and identity" Archived September 12, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, Intermountain Jewish News, October 11, 2012.
- BMH-BJ entry in "Mile Chai" Synagogue Directory
- Kerry M. Olitzky, The American Synagogue: A Historical Dictionary and Sourcebook (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996), ISBN 978-0313288562, pp. 70-71. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- Tom Noel, "Hiding the Heritage of a Building", Rocky Mountain News, June 2, 2001 – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- Andrea Jacobs, "Then, BMH; now . . .church in the city" Archived July 14, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Intermountain Jewish News, November 20, 2008.
- "Kauvar, Charles Eliezer Hillel", Encyclopaedia Judaica (2nd ed., 2007) – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- "Wagner, Stanley M.", Encyclopaedia Judaica (2nd ed., 2007) – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- Dahlia Jean Weinstein, "Luminaries Mark Mizel Museum's 20th Anniversary", Rocky Mountain News, June 17, 2002 – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- "Denver", Encyclopaedia Judaica (2nd ed., 2007) – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- Mary Voelz Chandler, "Mizel Museum Exhibits Power, Glory of Great Synagogues", Rocky Mountain News, March 16, 1997 – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
- Leppek, Chris. "BMH-BJ resigns from OU, ponders its future direction". Intermountain Jewish News.
- "Our Community". BMH-BJ.