Past Heritage Awards

2010 Heritage Award Recipient

Mr. Jerry Lewkowitz

Harold Jerome “Jerry” Lewkowitz is a lifelong resident of Phoenix. He attended Kenilworth Elementary and North High schools. He was admitted to the State Bar of Arizona in 1954. Jerry practices administrative liquor law with his wife, Andrea at the Lewkowitz Law Office. He is recognized statewide for his expertise in all aspects of liquor licensing and zoning matters before local, county and state agencies and legislative bodies. Jerry also served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force (1954-1956) and was a member of the Phoenix City Council from 1974-1976.


Jerry’s depth and breadth of service shows a true dedication to our community. When he first began his involvement, he was determined to open doors to diverse membership and participation. He accomplished that goal by serving as president, chairman, founding officer or board member of the Crisis Nursery, Phoenix Thunderbirds (since 1962), YMCA, Barry Goldwater Center for the Southwest, Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Campfire Girls, March of Dimes, COMPAS, Phoenix Boys Choir, United Way, the Arizona Historical Society and many others. Awards include Phoenix College Alumni Hall of Fame, the National Asthma Center Man of Year, the ADL Torch of Liberty Award, and the Thunderbirds Life Bird of the Year.

Jerry’s family has been leaders in the Phoenix Jewish community since 1914. His parents, Herman and Carrie, brother Burton and sister Nona Segal, modeled active involvement with the AJC, the ADL, the Elks, the American Legion, Central High School PTA, National Conference of Christians and Jews and ALL activities at Temple Beth Israel. From Sisterhood to Brotherhood to three generations of serving as President and on the Board of Directors, the Lewkowitz family has been intimately involved with the evolution and growth of Congregation Beth Israel. In fact, Jerry celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at this location on 122 East Culver Street.

In 1981, Jerry Lewkowitz and Marshall Lehman drew up the articles of incorporation to establish the Arizona Jewish Historical Society. Jerry also served four terms as AZJHS president and is currently serving on the Board of Directors. It was his passion to repurchase the first temple and raise money for its restoration and opening as a Jewish Heritage Center.


2011 Heritage Award Recipient


Mr. Jerry Colangelo

Jerry Colangelo arrived in the Valley of the Sun in 1968 to take over the expansion Phoenix Suns NBA franchise.  He proceeded to build the Suns into one of the most successful organizations in the NBA.  He also brought Major League Baseball to the Valley in 1998 and was chairman of the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Colangelo was the key element in facilitating the move of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets to the Valley of the Sun to become the Phoenix Coyotes.  He was also on the founding committee for the WNBA, and the Phoenix Mercury were one of the league’s inaugural teams in 1997. and the Phoenix Mercury were one of the league’s inaugural teams in 1997.

Colangelo’s impact on the sports scene in Phoenix and the game of basketball has been so great, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in April 2004. He has been among The Sporting News most powerful people in sports for over the last decade and was appointed as the first Managing Director of the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team program for 2005-2008.  Colangelo assembled the coaches and players of the “Redeem Team,” who returned USA Basketball to Olympic glory and claimed the gold medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Colangelo’s commitment to the Valley transcends sports.  He is well-known as one of the city’s most active community leaders.   In recognition of his efforts in the community, Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon proclaimed March 26, 2004, Jerry Colangelo Day in the city of Phoenix. Colangelo is also deeply committed to improving our city’s civic culture, and supports efforts to preserve the diverse heritage and history of Phoenix’s many ethnic and religious communities. 

Born November 20, 1939, Colangelo grew up in the “Hungry Hill” neighborhood of Chicago Heights. He graduated from the University of Illinois, where he met his wife, Joan, on a blind date.  They have four children and ten grandchildren.



2013 Heritage Award Recipient
 

Mrs. Sheila Schwartz 

Born and raised in Williamsburg, New York, Sheila married Jess Schwartz (who came to the Valley in 1947 from New York) in Phoenix in 1959. Jess Schwartz was the founder of American Creditors Bureau.

Sheila and Jess have three children, Frank, who married 
Jennifer and lives in Hawaii; Abby who lives in Phoenix and Lesley who married Dr. Eli Hammer and also lives in the Phoenix area. All three children were educated at Jewish Community Center, Phoenix Hebrew Academy and went to ASU, the UofA and NAU.

Sheila’s past affiliations include board member of Phoenix Hebrew Academy, 
Federation and Women’s Division, Central High School, Kivel, Kivel Women’s Auxiliary, Endowment Fund, was given the Special Community Award by Federation and received the JNF Tree of Life Award in 2003, was awarded the Medal of Honor from The Jewish
Federation of Greater Phoenix in 2010, organized dances for singles in the Jewish community for 20 years and was the founder/board member of the Jess Schwartz Academy (K-12).

Sheila’s current affiliations include being a member of Beth Joseph Congregation. She is also involved with ASU, CJSN, JCC, Crysalis, Weizmann Institute of Science Technion, Phoenix Hebrew Academy, Lion of Judah, US Holocaust Museum, Bar Ilan, Partner #14 of PEJE (Partnership For Excellence In Jewish Education), The Wellness Community, ICAN (International Cancer Advocacy Network) and the Phoenix Symphony. She is a lifetime member of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society.


2014 Heritage Award Recipient
 

Mr. Mark Curtis


Mark Curtis made his first appearance on valley airwaves back in June of 1980. Back in those days, Curtis and his mustache went all over the country covering sports for 12 News.  He remained at 12 through 1987 when he and his pregnant wife Abby packed their bags for Minneapolis where he covered the Twins amazing run to the 1987 World Series!  After three years in the Twin Cities it was on to St. Louis where Curtis not only worked as the main sportscaster but was also the play by play voice for St. Louis University basketball.   But deep inside, Curtis and his quickly growing family wanted to return to Phoenix.   In 1995 he finally did, returning to 12 News.  It wasn’t long before Mark made the switch, moving over to join Lin Sue Cooney on the anchor desk.

Mark has been involved in the community, and he is particularly interested in lending support for two causes: pancreatic cancer, from which his mother passed away, and Crohn’s disease.   He has volunteered his time to numerous charity fundraising events and hosted this year's community Yom Hashoah commemoration.  He is a member of Congregation Beth Israel.

 

 

2015 Heritage Award Recipients

Bendheim, Eckstein, Mendelsohn, and Newmark families.

The first of their family members arrived in the Valley in the 1920s and through the decades, the families have been instrumental in the fields of publishing, law, education, health, the arts, Jewish community service and philanthropy. Current family members Flo and Paul Eckstein, Sue and David Rosen, Diane and John Eckstein and Paul and Judith Bendheim have continued supporting all of the philanthropic endeavors of their parents and have added many more as the community has grown.

Institutions that have benefited from their contributions include: Arizona Jewish Historical Society, Arizona State Attorney General’s Office, Audubon Arizona, Camp Colley, Center for Jewish Studies at ASU, Children’s Action Alliance, Fleischer Scholars Program in the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU, Hillel at ASU, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU, Hospice of the Valley, Jewish Family and Children’s Service, Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, Jewish Free Loan Association, Jewish National Fund, Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, Mayo Clinic, The National Center for Science Education, NPR Station KJZZ, Orpheus Choir, Osborn-Maledon Law Firm, Pardes Jewish Day School, PBS Channel 8, Pomona College, Ryan House, Scripps College, VALLEYLIFE, and many others. 

The families are long-time members of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society, where Pearl Newmark served as the first Executive Director.
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