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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


First AZ Jewish temple celebrates 100 years

Temple Emanu-El, the first Jewish congregation in Arizona, turned 100 years old and celebrated with a gala at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort on Saturday.

“”The Centennial Celebration will honor all of Temple’s past presidents and Joan and Donald Diamond for their vision, leadership and the dedication they have provided over these 100 years,”” said Rabbi Samuel Cohon.

The gala included dinner, live music and multimedia presentations.

Jill Rich, one of the temple’s vice presidents, said they would also have comedic presentations about their history.

Rich said several hundred people attended.

“”We’ve been on the forefront of every Jewish organization in Tucson,”” Cohon said. “”It was from Temple Emanu-El really that every organization came.””

Cohon said the temple has the largest outreach program in the Southwest.

In addition to the gala, the temple, along with hundreds of participants, is working on writing a new “”Torah”” to celebrate the anniversary, Cohon said.

One of the Jewish organizations they’ve supported is the Albert T. Bilgray lectureship in honor of Albert T. Bilgray, rabbi emeritus at Temple Emanu-El and UA professor emeritus, who helped form Judaic and religious studies programs at the UA. The lectureship started in 1985.

“”It’s someone speaking on Jewish interests and has an academic component as well,”” Cohon said.

The lecture normally draws 80 or more faculty and staff depending on the topic, according to Edward Wright, director of the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies.

“”That lectureship has had an important impact on campus,”” Wright said. “”It really models effective ways of the university and the community working together.””

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