Cutler Plotkin
Jewish Heritage Center

An Official Phoenix Point of Pride

The Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, located in downtown Phoenix, is the heart of Phoenix's Jewish community. Originally constructed in 1921 as the Valley's first synagogue, the Center serves as the headquarters for the Arizona Jewish Historical Society and its activities. Renovated and restored in 2008, the building retains all of its historic charm and many of its original features.

Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center

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According to the Arizona Jewish Historical Society, the purpose of the Center is about dynamically “Preserving the rich heritage of Arizona’s Jewish communities, educating the public about Jewish contributions to Arizona life, and promoting awareness of our state’s diverse history.”

Open to the public on Tuesday and Thursday. The Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center is compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Features

Features at the Center include:

  • A Museum Gallery.
  • An Education Center that offers culturally rich programs.
  • A monthly book discussion group.
  • An archival collection of photographs, documents, and oral histories pertaining to Jewish life in Arizona and the Southwest (many also available online).
  • Numerous events throughout the year.
  • Over 100 video histories and 200 oral histories archived by the Arizona Jewish Historical Society.
  • Corporate, Social, and Educational Meeting Spaces that can be rented.
  • Ample free parking.


Rental Facilities

A variety of spaces are available for people of all faiths to rent for functions including receptions, meetings, fundraisers, presentations, and seminars. The Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center also offers:

  • Wedding Packages (all faiths welcome)
  • B’nai Mitzvah Packages
  • A listing of Preferred Caterers


Events

The Arizona Jewish Historical Society hosts a variety of cultural and educational programs and events throughout the year at the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center. These events include:

  • Genealogy seminars.
  • Book discussions and lectures.
  • Film screenings.
  • Art exhibitions.
  • Theater performances.
  • Music events.
  • Culinary events.

See the Society's website for their calendar of events.


Exhibits

The Museum gallery hosts exhibits throughout the year commemorating Jewish history in Phoenix and the Southwest. Educational packets for school children are often available, and teachers can download the packets from the Society's website before or after students visit the exhibit.

Call or visit the Society's website for information about exhibit dates and times. You may also schedule a docent led group tour at any time.

In addition to Museum gallery exhibits, the personal collection of photographs, sound recordings, and documents of Rabbi Albert Plotkin (a leading figure in the Jewish community from 1955 until his death in 2010), is available online. Our Publisher, Marie, well-remembers Rabbi Plotkin's highly-successful efforts in the 1980s to help reconcile belief-based differences between Jews and Christians in Phoenix.


History

Star of David

The Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center was originally built in 1921 as a synagogue for the Temple Beth Israel Congregation. Because this was the first synagogue ever built in Phoenix, the Congregation earned its place in local history.

The local and prominent architectural firm, Lescher and Mahoney, designed the original building to resemble an old Spanish church in the mission style, unusual for a synagogue. Another distinctive twist was that the multi-purpose building was laid out on a north-south axis (fronting Culver Street), rather than facing east-west as is customary for a Jewish house of worship.

Timeline

  • April 8, 1920. 38 local Phoenix residents formed the Temple Beth Israel congregation.
  • 1921. The first synagogue in Phoenix was built for the Temple Beth Israel Congregation.
  • October 30, 1921, the cornerstone of the original synagogue was laid by Phoenix Mayor Willie Plunkett.
  • 1949. The property was sold to a Chinese-speaking Baptist church, which later sold it to a Spanish-speaking Baptist church.
  • 1981. The Arizona Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) was founded.
  • 2001. The AJHS repurchased the property, and began renovating and restoring it as the "Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center".
  • 2008. The AJHS renovation project was completed, and now the property is a museum and cultural and educational center dedicated to preserving and sharing Arizona’s Jewish heritage.

To experience firsthand a bit of local history, take a tour of the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center in downtown Phoenix.


Location and Contact Information

  • 122 E Culver Street (North of Washington Street at Central Avenue), Phoenix, AZ 85004. Phone: (602) 241-7870
  • Arizona Jewish Historical Society Website
  • Email: azjhs@aol.com
  • Oral History Project Contact: Dr. Lawrence Bell, (602) 241-7870


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