Henry Nathan Jaffa, Albuquerque's first mayor, honored with plaque at City Hall during Jewish Heritage Month

Henry Nathan Jaffa, Albuquerque's first mayor,  honored with plaque at City Hall during Jewish Heritage Month

Mayor Tim Keller has honored Albuquerque's first mayor, Henry Nathan Jaffa, with a plaque prominently positioned at City Hall. Jaffa also founded Congregation Albert, the reform synagogue in Albuquerque. Along with the unveiling of the plaque, Mayor Keller presented Rabbi Surget with the annual Executive Order proclaiming May, 2024 as Jewish American Heritage Month for Albuquerque.

Mayor Tim Keller and Rabbi Celia Surget, head of Congregation Albert, hold the Executive Order from the Office of the Mayor proclaiming May, 2024 as Jewish American Heritage Month for the City of Albuquerque. Photos by Julia O'Connell.

The text of the plaque reads as follows:

"Henry Nathan Jaffa, New Albuquerque's first Mayor in 1885, played a pivotal role in shaping the city's history. As a Jewish German immigrant, he addressed challenges such as gambling and violence with dedicated Town Trustees. Jaffa's leadership focused on transformative projects like streets, sewers, water systems, a bridge, and utilities, laying the foundation for growth.

He initiated the first police and fire departments, contributing to public safety services.

Beyond civic duties, Jaffa founded New Mexico's first synagogue, Congregation Albert, in 1897, highlighting his dedication to religious and community ties. His involvement in civic and fraternal affairs showcased commitment to community well-being.

Jaffa's influence extended beyond local matters, evident in his friendship with Wild West legend Wyatt Earp. Moving to New Albuquerque with the railroad, he contributed to the city's economy with a business near the terminal but also formed lasting connections with influential figures.

Until his 1901 passing, Henry Nathan Jaffa actively participated in civic and business affairs, leaving a lasting legacy tied to Albuquerque's cultural, social, and economic growth."

NMJHS President Linda Goff said that more about the illustrious Henry Jaffa can be read in the archives of Legacy, the quarterly publication of the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society, in a story titled "Henry Jaffa and Wyatt Earp: Wyatt Earp’s Jewish Connection; A Portrait of Henry Jaffa, Albuquerque’s First Mayor" by Mark Dworkin. The story runs across four consecutive issues beginning December, 2005, and ending in the September 2006, in each issue on page 10, http://www.nmjhs.org/september-06.pdf issue.

The Henry Jaffa plaque, situated at the main elevators at City Hall, where it will be seen by all entering the facility, is unveiled by Mayor Keller and Jewish community representatives. Shown are Sara Koplik, Hillel at UNM Executive Director; Rabbi Darah Lerner, Shelly Prant, CEO, JCC of Greater Albuquerque; and Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Albert.

Community Supporters of the NM Jewish Journal include these advertisers:
Jewish Community Foundation of New Mexico
Congregation Albert
Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque
The Institute for Tolerance Studies
Shabbat with Friends: Recapturing Together the Joy of Shabbat
Temple Beth Shalom

Event advertisers:
Academy of Jewish Learning at Congregation B'nai Israel
Jewish Federation of El Paso and Las Cruces

Read more