Los Alamos resident among recipients of Jewish Historical Society award

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By The Staff

The New Mexico Jewish Historical Society (NMJHS) will honor two individuals for their contributions to the organization at its annual meeting at 2 p.m. Sunday at Congregation Beit Tikva, 2230 Old Pecos Trail, in Santa Fe. Keynote speaker for the meeting will be noted historian and author Henry J. Tobias. NMJHS members and the public are invited to attend this meeting at no charge.

The Dr. Allan and Leona Hurst Award recognizes a person, persons or organization that has contributed to New Mexico Jewish history, culture and community for a substantial period of time. The first award was bestowed in 1998 in honor of Hurst, a founding member of the society and his wife. This year it will be presented to two outstanding board members, Dorothy Corner Amsden and Lance Bell. Amsden, a 34-year Los Alamos resident, has served on the NMJHS board as vice president, genealogy chair and editor of the NMJHS quarterly newsletter, Legacy. She is a retired technical editor and writer.

“It’s a great honor,” Amsden said. “I’m in company with some amazing people. It’s been going on many years and I never expected to get anything like that.”

Amsden said she has been a member of the society for about seven years and has served as a board member for five years.

Regarding NMJHS, she said, “New Mexico history is absolutely fascinating and the Jewish angle is especially fascinating.”

Amsden said she became involved in the society through her interest in genealogy. Additionally, before she became a member, Amsden said she was invited to conduct a Jewish genealogy workshop.

Amsden describes her self as a secular Jew who is interested in the history of the Jewish people.

Santa Fe native Bell, scion of the Bell family merchants in downtown Santa Fe, is a past president of the organization, whose energy and love of New Mexico history led him to promote its activities.

Professor of history emeritus at the University of Oklahoma Henry J. Tobias will take another look at the history of Jews in New Mexico and will sign his new book, “Jews in New Mexico Since World War II,” published by UNM Press. Tobias, an Albuquerque resident, will discuss the changes in the Jewish community, its growth, the many new institutions and the role of Jews in New Mexico life. This new book is a sequel to “A History of the Jews in New Mexico.”

The New Mexico Jewish Historical Society is a secular organization founded 24 years ago to promote greater understanding and knowledge of New Mexico’s Jewish history. Amsden said there are three focuses in the organization: the study of Crypto-Jews in New Mexico, pioneer Jews who set up businesses in towns such as Las Vegas, N.M., and Jewish roots. Visit www.nmjewishhistory.org for more information and upcoming events.