Arizona Jewish Historical Society Reaches Capital Campaign Milestone

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27th. The Arizona Jewish Historical Society has reached a milestone for the Capital Campaign to build the first permanent Holocaust education center in Phoenix. It is 50% of the way to its goal.

The 17,000-square-foot project includes a new 6,778-square-foot space dedicated to teaching visitors about the Holocaust and other human rights abuses. The new building will feature special exhibit galleries. Susie Ernst is a donor who feels a deep attachment to the creation of the center as both of her parents are Holocaust survivors.

Lawrence Bell, Executive Director of Arizona Jewish Historical Society, and Susie Ernst join us to discuss the project.

The Arizona Jewish Historical Society currently owns and operates Cutler Plotkin, which is a cultural center, museum, and an event venue. It’s located in the original synagogue that was built in Phoenix. It was built in 1921. It turned 100 years old back in 2021.

“What we’re looking to do is expand on the current property,” Bell said. The expansion will serve as a Holocaust Education Center for the Valley. It will be an 18,000 square foot expansion of the current property.

Ernst said she donates because she wants to honor the people who lost their lives and suffered through the Holocaust. At age nine, Ernst’s mother escaped the Holocaust with her family in 1939. “We all need to be educated so it doesn’t happen again,” Ernst said.

Bell said social media could be driving the rise in anti-semitism. “Awareness of the Holocaust is fading among younger generations,” he said.

Lawrence Bell, Susie Ernst

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