The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona approved the Jewish History Museum as a Federation community partner at its Nov. 3 board meeting.
Founded in 1947, the Tucson Jewish Community Council became the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona in 1989. The agencies of the Council were given new autonomy with the goal of maintaining a Federation “family” of agencies that worked in concert. At that time, the Federation established two agency categories: beneficiary agencies, which now include the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation, Handmaker Services for the Aging, Tucson Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family & Children’s Services and Tucson Hebrew Academy; and affiliated corporations, including the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.
The creation of a new Federation “family” classification, “community partner,” is the first big step in 20 years that the JFSA has taken to formally embrace additional Tucson Jewish organizations.
Both the Federation and the museum see great benefit in this new partnership. “We recognize the potential of the museum being the first look visitors to Tucson have of our vibrant Jewish community, as well as the importance of preservation of our local Jewish history,” says Federation President and CEO Stuart Mellan. The museum looks forward to the added visibility and public image of being recognized as part of the Federation family, and acceptance and integration into the Jewish community that it will gain from this new partnership, as well as the value of leadership building and support the Federation can provide.
The Jewish History Museum is housed in the oldest synagogue building in Arizona, the original home of Temple Emanu-El at 564 S. Stone Avenue. Prior to becoming an Arizona certified museum in January 2008, the museum building underwent 10 years of renovation, restoring it to its original finishes. The mission of the museum is the collection, preservation, exhibition and teaching of the Jewish history of the American Southwest and the preservation of the first synagogue building in Arizona. Open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, the museum celebrates the heritage of the American Southwest through a permanent Legacy Exhibit and revolving exhibits and programming that cover the pioneer years (1855-1900) through the present.