Bereshit...there is always a beginning. So how did this all start? How did a Southwest Jewish Archives originate?
Well, you see, when my wife and I were working on our first book,This Land, These Voices, we criss-crossed the state interviewing historic figures of Arizona. As we traveled some 7,000 miles the summers of the 1970s we came to the realization that the stories of pioneer Jews not only were great, but they were being lost. From that germinated the idea for an archives where for all time the great history of pioneer Jews in the Southwest would be forever recorded. Because pioneer Jews often moved through West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, the decision was made to gather the history of these areas into our research center.
Giving birth to such an idea takes more than brainstorming. The University of Arizona accepted the proposal for such an Archives and it became a reality when David and Leona Bloom donated the basic funding. And so almost four years ago the Leona G. and David A. Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives was established on the campus of the University of Arizona. Since the start, the Bloom Southwest Jewish Archives has grown to a research center not only serving the nation, but becoming internationally known as well. Recently an Israeli Television producer came to Tucson to film the story of our Archives. Now with the quincentenary, a new and exciting area of research has become a part of the SWJA. We are interviewing Hispanics who are coming to our Archives to find their hidden Jewish links going back through Mexico to Spain and the time of the Inquisition.
Abe Chanin (Fall 1992)