From Arizona’s First Synagogue to the Jewish History Museum of Tucson
Before 1910, the Jewish men in Tucson conducted High Holy Day services in halls, stores or homes.
The First Phase
Early in 1910 the Hebrew Benevolent Society was created to plan the new synagogue structure.
In June the cornerstone was laid with ceremonies lead by the local Masonic Grand Lodge.
On Rosh Hashanah, 1910, the “Stone Avenue Synagogue,” became first Jewish house of worship in the Arizona Territory - Temple Emanu-El.
In the 1930s, congregants differed over Reform and Traditional practices. The temple’s board tried for years to unite the two factions.
Unsuccessful, in 1936, Temple Emanu-El gave their nearby Community Center to the new Conservative congregation, Anshei Israel.
In 1947, property at East 9th Street and N. Country Club Road was purchased.
Construction of the new Temple Emanu-El began in late 1948 and the congregation moved from Stone Avenue in 1949.
The Second Phase
From 1949 through 1982 the former Stone Avenue Synagogue building housed eleven different churches.
The Third Phase
In 1994 when it was learned that the property was to be sold and turned into a parking lot, an organization was formed called the Stone Avenue Temple Project and began to gather community support to save the historic synagogue building.
in 2006 the Jewish Historical Society and the Stone Avenue Temple Project merged to form the non-profit Jewish History Museum.
The Jewish History Museum now houses a permanent collection of Southwest Jewish artifacts and hosts a number of special exhibits and events throughout the year.
In 2013 the Jewish History Museum added new space dedicated to telling the story of Holocaust Survivors who make Southern Arizona their home.
Thus, Arizona’s first synagogue survives as a nationally recognized Jewish History Museum.
Jewish History Museum, 564 S. Stone Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701