Jewish Women's Organizations/ Cutler*Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center   
Council of Jewish Women at luncheon. Cutler*Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, Phoenix Freeda Marks, member of the Council of Jewish Women, who went on to serve in the state legislature.
The Council of Jewish Women and the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Israel were two women's organizations that worked actively to build a religious community at Temple Beth Israel, the first reform temple in Phoenix. These groups raised funds to build the first and second temples of their congregation, taught Sabbath school, aided the rabbis, and worked in other ways to foster community development. The building that housed the temple is now the Cutler*Plotkin[1] Jewish Heritage Center, located at 122 E. Culver in Phoenix.

Region: Phoenix and Central Arizona
Theme: Women and Community Building

Women from the congregation of Temple Beth Israel organized the Council of Jewish Women, Phoenix branch, in 1917 with fourteen members. By 1921, their membership had grown to seventy. Like many other women's clubs of this era, this organization united Jewish women to work for social betterment through philanthropy, civics and education. Meeting twice monthly, the women staffed a variety of committees that were organized to teach Sabbath School, raise money, help the sick and provide publicity. They also worked on issues related to social welfare, legislation, peace and immigrant aid. In addition, the Council helped locate rabbis for their religious community and raise funds to beautify their cemetery, at 305 S. 35th Avenue.

The Council of Jewish Women played an important role in the early development of Temple Beth Israel. They formed the Sisterhood of Beth Israel in 1933 and continued the same work as the earlier organization. After the congregation outgrew its site on East Culver Street, members of the Sisterhood raised money to build a second temple that was completed in 1948 at 3310 N. 10th Avenue. This organization continued to work in education, social welfare, and to improve community relations in the wider community.

Women who were leaders in these organizations included Freeda Marks, who went on to serve in the Arizona State Legislature and eventually became a leader among women in the Republican Party. Other prominent members included Helen Diamond, wife of Harold Diamond who owned Diamond's Department store (now Dillard's), and Blanche Korrick, married to Charles Korrick who owned Korrick's Department Store, later Robinson-May.

To learn more about these organizations and Jewish history in the Valley visit the Cutler*Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center at 122 E. Culver Street in Phoenix. Although the facility is now being renovated, it is open by appointment. The museum-educational center is scheduled to open permanently in 2011.

[1] The name "Cutler" honors civic activists James and Bettie Cutler, and "Plotkin" refers to Rabbi Albert Plotkin, a leading figure in the Valley's Jewish and interfaith relations. The symbol joining the names stands for the Star of David.

Photo Credits:
Council of Jewish Women at luncheon. - Courtesy of Arizona Jewish Historical Society
Freeda Marks - Courtesy of Arizona Jewish Historical Society


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