Funding has been secured towards an effort to restore the first synagogue in Phoenix history, built specifically for the city’s Orthodox Jewish population.
Constructed in 1955, the arc-shaped Beth Hebrew Synagogue was designed by modern architect Max Kaufman and is most known for its unique raised roof allowing for light to flow in through a series of upper glass windows on three sides of the structure.
Located at 333 E. Portland Street in downtown Phoenix, the building is also historically important owing to the fact that the synagogue was founded by Elias Loewy, a German-born resident of the city who is thought to have saved at least 1,500 people from concentration camps during World War II.
Serving as a synagogue for more than two decades, the building was eventually rented out for other purposes after Beth Hebrew was absorbed into the larger Beth El synagogue in north Phoenix.
But after published concerns several years ago that the building would eventually be demolished, Michael Levin, a local developer, purchased it for $850,000 with the idea of guaranteeing its preservation.
Now, members of the Phoenix City Council have given their approval to awarding what is called a Historic Preservation Warehouse Theatrical Building grant of some $280,000 that will go towards restoring the building.
While the total restoration cost for the structure is thought to be near $3 million, what it will eventually be used for remains uncertain, with thoughts that it could be returned to its original function as a synagogue or turned into a Jewish cultural center.
By Garry Boulard
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