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JEWISH SITES & HISTORY IN PHOENIX AND SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA


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Celebrating 361 Years


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The Jewish Friendship Trail


presents


Reform Jewish Congregations


in


Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona





One definition of friendship:
To seek G-dliness by learning, by building, and by kindness.





Copyright Michael Alan Ross, 2013-2014. All Rights Reserved.
Email: Jewish Friendship Trail



The 1st permanent, successful Jewish synagogue or congregation in Phoenix, Arizona came together in 1920 and by 1921 had acquired its 1st building. This was the beginning of reform Judaism in Phoenix. Perhaps, reform was the only way to go in a Southwestern state celebrating 8 years of statehood. It wasn't easy to separate the men and women who shared much of the hard life of living in Arizona. It was a challenge to keep Shabbat and kashrut. It was easier to pray and learn in English rather than Hebrew. Reform Judaism allowed great leeway on all these matters. Only later did reform Judaism grow its appreciation of more traditional Jewish approaches. The 1st permanent, successful congregation has survived and now is joined by more than a half dozen additional reform synagogues here in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona.




Number 1


The Phoenix Jewish Historical Society


1921 - Beth Israel synagogue cornerstone laid
2002 - Arizona Jewish Historical Society re-purchases site


The Phoenix Jewish Historical Society occupies the original building and 1st site of Phoenix' 1st successful permanently established synagogue, Beth Israel Congregation. As the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, the 1st Beth Israel now is restored to house historical artifacts and displays as well as public seminars and private celebrations. In addition, several small congregations such as the humanistic Jewish congregation, Or Adam, presently hold activities and services here.



Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center



Rabbi Albert Plotkin's home


From the mid-1950s



For over 40 years, Rabbi Plotkin, his wife Sylvia Plotkin, and their children lived here during the 2nd half of the 20th century. Their home is 5 blocks away, in walking distance, from the 2nd location of Beth Israel Congregation which we'll view next. Because of his activism,Rabbi Plotkin sometimes was considered the rabbi of the city of Phoenix during those 40 years.




The 2nd location of Beth Israel Congregation


1949 - 1996


After the Culver Street location, in mid-century, Beth Israel moved to the Phoenix College area of Central Phoenix. A few years later, the synagogue hired Rabbi Albert Plotkin who would be a large personality in the synagogue and in Greater Phoenix for 40 years.



Beth Israel synagogue 2, now part of Phoenix College




Beth Israel Congregation, a reform affiliate and the longest established synagogue in Phoenix/Scottsdale


1997 - Present (3rd location)




Beth Israel on the North Phoenix/North Scottsdale border

This is the Beth Israel Congregation that originally occupied the Phoenix Jewish Historical Society building. Beth Israel Congregation, in addition, houses the Sylvia Plotkin Museum of Jewish Life here. Founded in 1920, this synagogue describes itself as a vibrant, welcoming Jewish community.

Longest serving rabbi: Rabbi Albert Plotkin, 38 years, 1955 - 1993. Rabbi Plotkin, who one year (1994) sang with the Arizona Opera in its production of Turandot, was a loving and beloved guy who gave much to the Greater Phoenix community: from his volunteer chaplaincy at Phoenix Veterans Hospital to developing and teaching courses in the Jewish Studies Program at ASU, from being a passionate advocate for civil rights and for Israel to his teaching students at Phoenix's All Saints' Episcopal Church about the Jewish roots of Christianity, and, at age 85, volunteering to serve as a director of the Judaica museum at Beth Israel that is named for his wife, Sylvia, who had founded it almost 40 years before.


Three Present Day Reform Congregations - The next three very active reform synagogues have their services inside host churches with whom they have friendly relations and occasional co-sponsored programs.



Number 2


Beth Ami Temple


Founded in 1978 by Rabbi Frederick Grosse, who also was its longest serving rabbi for 23 years, 1978 - 2001.





Number 3


Congregation Merkaz Ha-Iyr


Founded in 2008.




Number 4


Temple Gan Elohim


Founded in 2001. For a while, Rabbi Plotkin, after official retirement from Beth Israel Congregation, led services at Temple Gan Elohim.





Number 5


Temple Chai


A highly popular and very busy reform synagogue in Northeast Phoenix. With well-known and dynamic rabbis, this reform synagogue is in the forefront of many Jewish activist programs in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.


Temple Chai in Northeast Phoenix. Founded in 1976, this synagogue sees its role as inspiring and igniting Jewish life. Longest serving rabbi: Rabbi William Berk, 24 years, 1983 - 2007. Members and/or additional clergy of note: Dr. Ronald Fischler and Rabbi Bonnie Koppell.




Number 6


Congregation Kehillah


Previously, a guest reform congregation on the campus of Har Zion synagogue, Congregation Kehillah now, late spring, 2014, has re-located to North Scottsdale.



Number 7


Kol Ami


A popular reform synagogue in the heart of North Scottsdale, with many active members.


Kol Ami in North Scottsdale. Founded in 1989, Kol Ami dedicates itself to families, particularly children, for learning, doing, and worship. Longest serving rabbi: Rabbi B. Charles Herring, 15 years, 1989 - 2004.




Number 8


Temple Solel


A dynamic reform synagogue just north of Old Scottsdale. An active synagogue with a good membership mix including families with children and not far from Railroad Park.


Temple Solel. Founded in 1966, this synagogue describes itself as welcoming, pathfinding, and progressive. Longest serving rabbi: Rabbi Maynard Bell, 25 years, 1977 - 2002. Rabbi Bell oversaw Temple Solel's move to its present facilities and participated in the founding of Pardes Day School. "Of the many roles that Rabbi Maynard W. Bell has played in his life - pastor, inspirational leader, mediator - perhaps his most noteworthy was that of Elvis," in a Purim spiel - "with an exposed chest and all," said Bonnie Morris, [onetime] Pardes head of school and Solel director of education.





Additional Links to Jewish Phoenix and Scottsdale








Have you clicked on these other, on-line selections from Michael Alan Ross' new,
The Ten Commandments Guidebook?





Links to Boston and New England



Copyright Michael Alan Ross, 2013-2014. All Rights Reserved.
Email: Jewish Friendship Trail


Now available!


The Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook

6 Self-Guided Walking/Bicycling Jewish Boston History Tours

Covers Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge

Softcover 198 pages with maps & b/w photos

Print out this
Book Order Form
to ordernow!



Now available!


The Ten Commandments Guidebook

Ways to Self-Struggle with Classic Morals

In Song, Poetry, and Prose

Covers 10 Commandments Plus One Other!

Softcover 153 pages with practical suggestions pages!

Print out this
Book Order Form
to order now!


















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BostonWalks

Integrating the urban, modern Jewish American city experience with its historical sites and themes in such locales as Boston, MA, Portland, ME, East Bay and Providence, RI, and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, NYC.





Table of Contents of Boston Walks The Jewish Friendship Trail