The Jews of Arizona

Posted by Ann Rabinowitz
Happily, Irish genealogist David Lentin, sent me a very unique document “New Frontiers:  Jewish Pioneers in the Arizona Territory" which represents a curriculum packet in Arizona Jewish History which was developed by the Arizona Jewish Historical Society.  

What makes it so special is that despite the educational questions for the students, it is replete with fascinating photographs of Arizona Jews.  The reason that David sent me this document is that part of his family is pictured in it (see photo above) of the wedding of Lillie Solomon and Max Lantin in 1904.  Lantin, who was born December 22, 1876, in Prussia, had arrived in America around 1886, and then had come west from New Haven, CT.

Many different aspects of Jewish Arizona are discussed as follows and they are accompanied by photographs taken from the document.  From 1854, when there was a minuscule population, through the growth years after gold was discovered in 1862, to now, when Arizona has grown to encompass 106,100 Jewish residents, the state has had a remarkable history of a Jewish presence in the following areas.

MiningThere were quite a number of mines which had Jewish ownership including the Longfellow  Mine, a copper mine and smelter in Clifton, AZ.  It was owned by Henry Lesinsky, whose merchantile empire included stores in such places as Las Cruces, Silver City and Solomonville.

BankingAn early bank in Arizona was the Gila Valley Bank and one can see that the Solomon family was involved in its operation which was located in Solomonville, AZ.  A link to the memories of Isador Elkan (I.E.) Solomon can be found by clicking here.

Merchants and the CityOne of the early merchants in Arizona was the Goldwater family whose store is seen below and whose most famous member was the politician Senator Barry Goldwater, who was a 1964 Presidential candidate:

SchoolSchools developed slowly in the Arizona territory and then became more organized when it became a state.  Seen below is a certificate of graduation of a Jewish student, Leon S. Jacobs, June 1, 1900.
Family and Social LifeMany social institutions developed within the Jewish community, but as ever the life cycle events of the community kept them together.  Such an event was the 1912 Goldberg-Metzler wedding.

This gives a brief overview of what is available in this document.  Further, there is a tremendous amount of books, articles and web sites devoted to information on the Jews of Arizona with which to enhance your knowledge.  For those wanting more detailed information, a few other links are provided below:
In addition, much more is available on the Jews of Arizona including data on the crypto-Jews which one can find easily enough by “Googling” that topic on the Internet.

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