Cotopaxi, Colorado: Russian Jewish Colony



Cotopaxi Colorado: A Road Marker for the Return to Jerusalem?


What could be important about Cotopaxi Colorado?


Road Markers:

There exists a historic marker a couple of miles east of Cotopaxi on the side of US HWY 50.  Among other local history, the Cotopaxi Colony is noted.


There exists a historic marker at the Cotopaxi Cemetery:

click image for enlargement to read text


In Volume 4, Sected Portions of Nachmanides’ Commentary on the Torah, Bamidbar – Devarim, translated and annotated by Avraham Yaakov Finkel, we read:

-in the Chapter “Mas’ie”, pp57-58;


“Why All the Journeys Were Recorded”

“In Moreh Nevuchim, The Rambam 3:50 adds an additional benefit to be derived from knowing the names of all the stations along the way.  He writes: ‘It was essential that the stops on their journeys be recorded, for miracles are convincing only to those who witness them; it is possible that later generations, knowing them only from hearsay, may deny that they happened. One of the greatest miracles in the Torah is the stay of B’nei Yisrael in the wilderness for forty years with a daily supply of manna.  The places they traveled were remote from cultivated and inhabited land, and under normal circumstances one could not survive, for it is not a place of seed, or fig, or grape, or pomegranate (20:5).  Indeed the  Torah says, you neither ate bread nor drank wine or strong drink (Devarim 29:5).  These miracles were witnessed by the people, but G-d knew that [in the furture] people hearing about these miracles might doubt the veracity of these reports, just as they doubt the accuracy of other historical events.  They might think the Jews stayed in the wilderness in a place not far from inhabited land, where it was possible for people to live [in the ordinary way], like the deserts where Arab Bedouins now live; or that they lived in places where they could plow, sow, and reap, or live on vegetables that grew there, and that there were water wells in those places.  In order to remove these doubts, firmly establishing the authenticity of these miracles, the Torah enumerates the journeys, so future generations, seeing them, may learn about the greatness of the miracles which enabled humans to live in those places for forty years.’

The above are the words of the Rambam.”


It seems this could also apply to the colonists’ journey through Cotopaxi.


The great miracle is that the colonists  “lived in places where they could plow, sow, and reap” – without success – BUT, they and their seed, that is of their loins, survived by being in Cotopaxi, and were not subject to Russian pogroms and more importantly, later their seed  survived the Holocaust.


In this view, the above mentioned enumeration of journeys, when applied to the diaspora, could be read as follows: “so future generations, seeing them, may learn about the greatness of the miracles which enabled humans the Jews to live".


Perhaps this is a stretch of the imagination, but perhaps the way G-d protected the Jewish nation in the Exodus and in the Wilderness [before the Land] is paralleled in the way G-d protected/protects the Jewish nation in the diaspora.  Perhaps? 


Continuing in this same book, in the chapter VA’ES’CHANAN, pp65 in a paragraph titled “Ramban’s Explanation”, keep in mind:


“…If you ever doubt that Shabbos proves the world came into being [and thus had a beginning], and that G-d is omnipotent and acts with freedom of will, then remember what your eyes saw at the Exodus. The Exodus proves [He is the Master of the universe,] and reminds us [that He controls nature and guides the events in the world].

            “Thus Shabbos reminds us of the Exodus and the Exodus reminds us of Shabbos, for on Shabbos we remember and declare that G-d performs new signs and wonders in His creations, manipulating them according to His will, since He brought everything into being at Creation.  The verse, It is for this reason that Hashem your G-d has commanded you to keep the Shabbos [means: Through the awesome miracles you saw at the Exodus, you will understand G-d’s command to keep the Shabbos.]”


Continuing in this same book, in the chapter EIKEV, pp78 in a paragraph titled “Observe the Mitzvos in Exile”,

“….And you will be destroyed quickly from the good land that Hashem gives to you.  Place these words of mine on your hearts and souls and tie them as a sign on your arms and they shall be as tefillin between your eyes.”

  “Rashi explains:  Even after you go into exile, be conspicuous through [the performance of commandments. For example,] put on tefillin and make mezuzos so that these mitzvos should not be new to you when you return [to Eretz Yisrael].  Similarly it says, Make road markers for yourself (Yeirmeyah 31:20). [As you go into exile, mark your route, for you will come back home. According to Rashi the verse tells us to keep the mitzvos in galus].”


“As you go into exile, mark your route, for you will come back home”


In my ignorance of such matters, I wonder if this refers to the route or flow of the resurrection.  That is, when/after Moshiach comes, [for Moshiach will come,] will there be a chronological resurrection * of the Jews according to place and/or time of death?  If “a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4), then it would seem likewise that a day with G-d is as a thousand years, and even in the * blink of an eye much can happen.


* [Yeshayah/Isaiah 26:19 –in the book Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer, Volume II, translated by Avraham Yaakov Finkel, we read on pp 17 “May your dead come to life, refers to Jews who died trusting in His name.”  Additionally, on pp22-23, we read  ‘Yaakov prostrated himself before the foundation stone and prayed to the Holy One, Blessed be He, pledging, ‘Master of al worlds! If You bring me back to this place in peace, I will offer to You thanksgiving and burnt offerings’, as it says, Yaakov made a vow, saying,If G-d will be with me…’ (Bereishes 28:20)”

He left behind the well [that had preceded him], and set out briskly, arriving in Charan within the blink of an eye, as it says, Yaakov lifted his feet (ibid. 29:1).”  Further, in another place in this book we read “Rabbi Chanina says: The souls of all tzaddikim who died outside of Eretz Yisrael are gathered to Eretz Yisrael, as it says, May my lord’s soul be bound up in the bond of life” (1 Shemuel 25:19) (‘The bond of life’ refers to Eretz Yisrael which is called ‘the land of life.’)]

From this we see the fact of the resurrection and of a fast route to Jerusalem.



For that matter perhaps every Jew, living or resurrected, will somehow trace his route back through time and place to the Land of Israel, when/after Moshiach, comes. “Make road markers for yourself”.


This view also, in light of the coming resurrection, with the fact that there is possibly an adult colonist buried at the Cotopaxi cemetery along with three children, also puts Cotopaxi on the “route”.  (This Hope of a resurrection is reflected with the gates of the fence at the Colonists’ gravesites being placed on the east side, facing Jerusalem.)


These possibilities, along with for a short time the existence in Cotopaxi, Colorado of the Congregation Bnai Shalom – Sons of Peace (and/or documents also state Congregation Ohev Shalom -Lovers of Peace)   are what put Cotopaxi on the map.


Cotopaxi Colorado:  a road marker for the way home.


It seems to me that it would be important for Jews to know the route they have traveled, so they will remember where they are from and where they are going; The Land of Israel.

More important, hopefully Jews will always remember-with-hope that it is G-d who always sets the course of events in their lives and in their history.



May these little webpages assist in delineating the Cotopaxi road marker and help the descendants of the colonists and other Jews remember where they are from, where they are going [to Rest, Shabbat Shalom!] and that they are and have always been G-d’s chosen people.


Nelson Moore

Cotopaxi Colorado

January 2010






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