Jewish Tucsonans will exclaim ‘Shalom Pardner’ for AZ Centennial

Tucson has a rich Jewish history, which the Jewish community will celebrate during the city’s Arizona Centennial Weekend from Feb. 10 to 12. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” says Eileen Warshaw, executive director of the Jewish History Museum and one of the co-chairs of the Downtown Centennial Celebration Committee.

Charles Moses Strauss, the first Jewish mayor of Tucson, Arizona Territory (elected 1883), with his son, Charles junior. Eileen Warshaw, executive director of the Jewish History Museum, explains that Strauss was actually a very dapper gentleman. The Western “duds” he and his son are wearing in this photo were photographer’s props. (Courtesy Jewish History Museum)

On Saturday, Feb. 11, all downtown museums will offer free admission, including the Jewish History Museum, where a centennial exhibit, “Looking Forward to the Future through the Eyes of History, 1910-2012: Celebrating the Jewish History of Southern Arizona,” will run Feb. 18-March 31. The museum has created a “Shalom Pardner” logo to use on memorabilia.

From a 48-star flag that flew over a Jewish-owned store on Feb. 14, 1912, the day that Arizona became a state, to photos of what Jewish women were wearing that day, the Centennial weekend celebration will have something for everyone.

The late Jewish Tucsonans Monte Mansfeld, a civic leader; Cele Peterson, a business owner; and Madeline Dreyfus Heineman Berger, founder of the Temple of Music and Art, will be portrayed in historic reenactments along with other famous men and women who helped create the State of Arizona and build the Old Pueblo. The event will take place at the Fox Theatre on Feb. 11, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., and will include a montage of films promoting Tucson over the years.

Museum administrators and local volunteers started planning for the Centennial last July, notes Warshaw, but had to find funding, which finally came from the Arizona Centennial Commission & 2012 Foundation on Jan. 6. “Without the help of Jim Click, Fletcher McClusker at the Providence Service Corporation, and Second Saturdays Downtown we couldn’t have done it,” she says. “As the umbrella organization for the weekend Second Saturdays has gone out of their way.”

“Now Tucson and Phoenix will celebrate Arizona’s Centennial on the same weekend,” notes McClusker, chair of Second Saturdays.

Others involved include the University of Arizona, Downtown Tucson Partnership and City of Tucson. Street concerts and musicians, food vendors and fireworks will add to the festivities.

“What a great way for Tucson to celebrate,” says Warshaw. “It’s Tucson-inspired, not a packaged exhibit, and quite honestly, this is the way it should be, because Tucson is where Arizona started.”

Other events of interest to the Jewish community include a free Metropolitan Klezmer concert of Yiddish folk and rock music on Friday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. at the Rialto Theatre, and an American Civil Liberties Union, Tucson chapter, panel discussion on “Arizona Civil Rights Memories” on Sunday, Feb. 12, from 2 to 4:30 p.m., at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, 160 S. Scott Ave. The panel will be moderated by former Tucson Mayor George Miller. Former Gov. Raul Castro, retired Arizona Supreme Court Justice Stanley Feldman and retired UA Law School Dean and Professor Emeritus Charles Ares will be on the panel.

For more information, visit jewishhistorymuseum.org, 2ndsaturdays.com or downtowncentennialcelebration.org.