16 October 2010

Tucson: Jewish centennial celebration, Oct. 24

Tucson, Arizona will celebrate the Jewish community's centennial on October 24, when the cornerstone placed in the first synagogue building will be removed and opened.

Following the opening of the original capsule, a new 2010 Centennial Time Capsule will be placed into the original space, the cornerstone will be replaced and sealed. It will be opened at the bicentennial in 2110.

For more information on the Jewish History Museum event, click here.

The Jews of southern Arizona began gathering in the 1880s. In 1884, the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society was formed. Twenty years later, they took up the challenge to aise funds for a permanent synagogue. Jewish settlers in other communities, such as Globe, Bisbee and Nogales also contributed.

On June 20, 1910, the grand lodge of Arizona Masons laid the Temple’s cornerstone. The first services were held on Rosh HaShanah, October 3, 1910. Built before Arizona achieved statehood, the synagogue served as an important center of Jewish community for the entire Southwest US.

Temple Emanu-El grew significantly and moved from Stone Avenue in September 1949. Over the years, the original building was used for other purposes.

In 1982, the Temple reclaimed its roots at a ceremony sponsored by the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission, the Arizona Heritage Center, and the southern Arizona chapter of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society.

A trilingual brass plaque (Hebrew, Spanish, and English) was set and plans made for rehabilation and preservation, although those plans were not completed.

Eventually, the Historic Stone Avenue Temple was taken over by the Jewish History Museum.

For more information on the early history, click here.

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