|Women originally formed this organization to help new people arriving in Tucson. They greeted the trains and provided food, shelter and other assistance to both Jewish and non-Jewish immigrants. This group also arranged the first Jewish services in the theater at Levin Park, then in the Masonic hall and later in individual homes. A member of the organization, Eva Mansfeld, secured land at 564 S. Stone Avenue as a site for a Jewish synagogue. The women raised the necessary seed money for the building's construction, and members sat on the board of the first congregation (Temple Emanu-El). They raised funds for its operation and later for the salary of the first rabbi in Arizona. Over the years, they continued to assist with services and to organize Sunday school for the growing Jewish population.
These women helped to create the religious and cultural foundation of the city of Tucson, volunteering in other social and cultural organizations, such as the Temple of Music and Art. Several of them, including Eva Mansfeld, Mrs. A. Steinfeld, Mrs. Phillip Drachman, and Mrs. Florshiem, were wives of prominent early Tucsonans.
The Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society changed its name to the Hebrew Benevolent Society in 1910, when men began joining the organization. The women continued working through the Sisterhood, a formal organization founded in 1913, which continues to this day.
The Jewish community used this synagogue until 1949 when they moved to a new location on Country Club Road. The historic structure has been restored and is now the home of the Jewish History Museum. Visit the museum at 564 S. Stone Avenue in Tucson.
To learn more about these women, consult files at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson and read "Amazing Jewish Women of the Past" by Gerri R. Pozez, which is available at the Jewish History Museum.
Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society of Tucson - Courtesy of the Jewish History Museum
Jewish History Museum, formerly Jewish synagogue - Courtesy of Jewish History Museum