The rise of Nazi Germany, which led to World War II and the mass persecution of Jews and other smaller identity groups throughout Europe, began. As the United States learned of the atrocities overseas, Temple Emanu-El continued to host services and welcome those fleeing the war. More than 260 Holocaust survivors made their way to Tucson in the years following the war.
Due to the growth of the Jewish population in post-war days, Temple Emanu-El quickly outgrew the original temple. In 1949, after having to host High Holiday services at various locations throughout town, Temple Emanu-El holds its last service in its original temple building on Stone Avenue and moves into a larger facility across town.
The Tucson community came together this year to renovate the orignial Temple Emanu-El as an historical preservation site. Renamed the Stone Avenue Temple Project, the building renovation was completed in 2005.
Beginning in 1950, the temple building underwent a series of transitions but remained largely forgotten and abandoned. Over the next 30-year span, at various times it became home to Christian congregations, a Spanish-language radio station, even a youth clubhouse. In its final stage, it served as a “flophouse” for transients.
In December, the Stone Avenue Temple Project’s Board of Directors voted to convert the first temple space into a museum. The Jewish History Museum at 564 South Stone Avenue was established.
The Jewish History Museum celebrated its 100th anniversary with the opening of its time capsule, a metal box placed in the building’s cornerstone by its founders in 1910.
The first exhibition for the Holocaust History Center, a joint project with the Jewish History Museum and Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, opened in the adjacent building (a former beauty salon) to the museum. The exhibition featured the stories and testimony from more than 120 local Holocaust survivors. Within its first 18 months, the history center welcomed more than 2,000 students through its doors.
The Jewish History Museum and Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona made plans to expand the Holocaust History Center and reopen as an integrated campus for Jewish life, learning, culture and history here in Southern Arizona.