The Arizona Jewish Historical Society was founded to preserve the history of Arizona's Jewish communities and to educate the public.
The Arizona Jewish Historical Society occupies the original building of the first permanent Jewish congregation in Phoenix. On April 8, 1920, 38 Jewish residents came together to form Congregation Beth Israel. The architecture of the synagogue represents an old Spanish church, which consists of three buildings. The total cost for the construction was around $14,000. Some of the original members included Isaac Diamond, David Goldberg, Herman Lewkowitz and Charles Korrick. Rabbi David L. Liknaitz served as the congregations first spiritual leader from 1920 to 1924.
In 1949, Congregation Beth Israel sold the property to the Southern Baptist Convention. The reason for Beth Israel relocating to another synagogue was due to an increase in members. The Southern Baptist Convention integrated into the First Chinese Baptist Church in 1957. In 1981, the First Chinese Baptist Church turned over the deed to the property to a Spanish-speaking Baptist Church, Iglesia Bautistia Central. It remained as the Iglesia Bautistia Central Church until the Arizona Jewish Historical Society purchased the buildings in 2001-2002.
The AZJHS was founded to preserve the heritage of Arizona Jewish communities through educational programs. The AZJHS has a rotation of exhibitions that range from local Jewish artists to early Jewish history in Arizona or throughout the world. The society sponsors many monthly educational programs that include movie presentations and book clubs. The society maintains an archival collection of more than 50,000 primary source documents and photographs. In 2008, the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center (named after two prominent members of the Jewish community) was voted as a Point of Pride. Come visit the AZJHS to learn more about the local Jewish community or to see the current exhibition.