Of Barry Goldwater, Sandra Bernhard and Eight Other Things About Jewish Arizona

Irving Berlin Wrote 'White Christmas' in Desert Sun

Schooled in Arizona: Actress and entertainer Sandra Bernhard attended Saguaro High School in Scottsdale.
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Schooled in Arizona: Actress and entertainer Sandra Bernhard attended Saguaro High School in Scottsdale.

By Forward Staff

Published April 18, 2015, issue of April 24, 2015.

1) 106,300 Jews live in Arizona.

2) Arizona’s first known Jewish resident was Dr. Herman Bendell who, in 1870, was nominated to be the state’s first Superintendent of Indian Affairs.

3) Since there were few women in the Arizona territory, early Jewish settlers traveled elsewhere to find wives. In 1884, 21 of these brides founded the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society of Tucson.

4) The Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society raised funds to build the state’s first synagogue, Temple Emanu-el in Tuscon, in 1910. It is now the site of the Jewish History Museum.

5) Though he was an Episcopalian, Arizona senator and 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was heir to his Jewish father’s department store fortune.

6) Actress and entertainer Sandra Bernhard attended Saguaro High School in Scottsdale.

7) Irving Berlin reportedly wrote the song “White Christmas” while lounging by the pool at the Arizona Biltmore hotel.

8) Comedian and star of the eponymous “It’s Gary Shandling’s Show” and the not-eponymous “Larry Sanders Show,” Gary Shandling grew up in Tuscon. His family ran a print shop and a pet store.

9) The grandfather of former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, changed his name from Akiba Hornstein to Akiba Giffords.

10) U.S. champion figure skater Max Aaron was born to a Jewish family in Scottsdale.



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