The Jewish community in Tucson has a unique history. Arizona was still a territory when Temple Emanu-El, opened its doors in 1910 and became the first synagogue in the state. Luis Carrión reports.
The Jewish Community in Tucson has a history that began between 1850 and the mid1 880s, when a wave of Jewish settlers came to Tucson in search of economic opportunity and religious freedom. Arizona was still a territory when these early settlers established Temple Emanu-El --the first synagogue in the state.
A lot has changed in the one hundred years since the early southwest Jewish Settlement first established a temple on Stone Avenue. Currently Rabbi Cohon leads the congregation at the Rubin Family Sanctuary on Country Club. This building was completed in 1964, Cohon points out, and he says that it is now the largest synagogue in Southern Arizona. This house of worship is at the center of the Jewish Community in Tucson and recently, as part of Temple Emanu-El’s centennial celebration, the congregation commissioned a new Torah. “It’s an extraordinary event,” says Rabbi Cohon. “The writing of the Torah is said to be the final commandment that you can fulfill individually, but that’s true collectively as well.” He says that this is an important event for the community as a whole, and an opportunity to teach younger generations about the faith. A scribe, in a process that will take an entire year, will now write the text of the Tora - which many believe to be more than 2,500 years old.
Shaped by the unique history of our state, and started by a wave of Jewish settlers that came to Tucson in search of a new life, this congregation is now an integral part of the community.