Jews have lived in Prescott since pioneer days. Morris Goldwater, an uncle of Barry Goldwater, was the mayor of Prescott for many years starting in 1879. However, while there are records of Jewish ceremonies and services being held, there was no congregation organized until much later. Attempts were made in the forties to start a Jewish congregation of some sort in the Prescott area but nothing actually got rolling until 1977. At that time, Irving and Shirley Brohner were living in Prescott but traveling back to their old Temple in Phoenix to worship. It was that year on a cold winter night while making the trip, that Shirley had a dream. She dreamed of how wonderful it would be to have a Temple close by…maybe even in Prescott. And from that dream, Temple B’rith Shalom was born.
Shortly after that cold drive, Shirley placed an ad in the Prescott Daily Courier that read, “Nice Jewish couple would like to meet other Jewish families.” The ad garnered just five responses, but it was enough. In 1978, the small group held its first Chanukkah party, and the next few years brought picnics, dinners, more Chanukkah parties and other social gatherings. As the group grew, it began to hold Friday night services at the old YMCA. These services were conducted by members of the congregation…using borrowed Torahs…while Sunday school was held at various locations and taught by members of the group.
It wasn’t long before the idea of a permanent Temple became more of a need than just a simple want. So, in 1980, Mark Goodman and his family from Phoenix made the initial donation toward a fund to construct a permanent temple in Prescott. That donation was matched by Irving Brohner, and the “Building Fund” was officially begun. That same year, the Temple chose its name—Temple B’rith Shalom—or “Covenant of Peace.”
As the Building Fund grew, so did the congregation. In 1983, the first student Rabbi, Lon Moskowitz, arrived. In 1984, the first Torah—a Holocaust Torah rescued from Slany, Czechoslovakia—was brought to the Temple. And in 1985 services and Sunday school were moved to a small house on Moeller Street. But, it didn’t take long for the ever-increasing community to need even more space, so, in 1990, the Temple was officially moved to a building which previously held a doll factory. This would be the home of Temple B’rith Shalom for the next eight years.
Finally, in 1992 the congregation found the perfect parcel of land located off of Willow Lake Road. Under the leadership of Greg Raskin, Alfred Falk, and Bob and Dorothy Morris, Temple B’rith Shalom’s plans for a new temple were underway. Simultaneously, In 1996, Temple B’rith Shalom hired our first ordained rabbi, Rabbi William Berkowitz.
On July 1, 1997, over 100 people attended the official groundbreaking ceremony. On November 12, 1997, the street where the Temple is located was renamed Brohner Way in honor of Irving and Shirley. And, on January 11, 1998, Rabbi William Berkowitz, Temple President Robert Morris, and the members of Temple B’rith Shalom held a dedication ceremony for the newly-completed Temple, and our congregation began to experience a huge growth in numbers.
But we didn’t stop there. In 1999 we consecrated a Jewish cemetery located within Heritage Memorial Gardens, and each year our congregation continues to swell in number as our history continues to evolve.