02 November 2010

Arizona: Historic Jewish time capsule opened

The Jewish History Museum in Tucson, Arizona, opened its century-old time capsule.

The Arizona Jewish Post covered the event that attracted hundreds of people.

The capsule was placed under the building's cornerstone - then the Stone Avenue Temple - when it was built in 1910. It was the first home of Temple Emanu-El.

It was removed and opened by US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (photo right. Credit: Marilyn Friedman/Jewish History Museum). Her father, Spencer Giffords, became a bar mitzvah in the synagogue.

The small metal box contained coins, a Masonic medal, old documents and newspapers from June 1910, including the Tucson Citizen and Arizona Daily Star, announcing that a bill for Arizona statehood (admitted February 1912) had been passed.

Speaking to the crowd before the box was chiseled out from beneath the cornerstone, Giffords noted that not only were Jews present in Arizona prior to statehood, they were involved in business, politics, education and “caring for the community.” Along with many of the other speakers, she remarked on the diversity of the Tucson community, noting particularly the participation of the Grand Lodge of Arizona Free and Accepted Masons — whose forebears had helped lay the cornerstone — in the day’s ceremonies.
Giffords wondered what Tucson would be like 100 years in the future.

When built, the structure cost less than $5,000, but more than $600,000 was spent to protect and preserve it. The building was effectively abandoned in 1999, prior to restoration efforts.
A new time capsule included histories of the Jewish community, and three congregations which began life in that building, a history of Southern Arizona's Holocaust Survivors, 2010 coins, copies of the Arizona Jewish Post and Arizona Daily Star, a flag of Israel, a US 48-star flag carried in the city on Arizona Statehood Day in 1912, and a copy of the day's events.

The cornerstone was rededicated by the Masons, who poured “the corn of nourishment, the wine of refreshment and the oil of joy” into the cavity.

For more information, click here.

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