The Fledgling Years 1920-1930

Tradition Unity Long

The Fledgling Years 1920-1930

In order to attract the younger generation, several elders of the Sephardic community – those mostly from Turkey proper, decided that it was about time the Sephardim of Los Angeles were united into a large congregation, build a temple and have an ordained rabbi. Unfortunately this dream of the elders did not materialize, for the moment at least. They did, however organize a formal community on Sunday, February 1, 1920. Then and there 40 young immigrant souls bound themselves spiritually together and formed the Sephardic Community of Los Angeles otherwise known as La Communidad. Rabbi Abraham Caraco served as the first rabbi of the community.

The first book of minutes dated 1 February 1920 reads, “Communidad sefardi de Los Angeles, domingo 1 de febrero de 1920 en Los Angeles,California – Walker Auditorium, 730 S. Grand Avenue a las 2:00 P.M. Respondiendo al llamaniento de los presidentes Mandolino Levy y Jose M. Estrugo acudieron en asamblea general a las personas siguentes.”

And so it was on this historic date that the Sephardic Community of Los Angeles (La Communidad Sefardi) was founded with thirty-nine men in attendance. The founders present at the first organizational meeting included Carlos Abolafia, Leon Anticoni, Solomon Beraha, Raphael Behar, Abraham Caraco (the first rabbi of the young community), Isaac L. Caraco, Ralph Caraco, Maurice Carasso, NissimCohen, Marcos Cordova, Adolphe de Castro Danziger, Harry Eskenazi, Sam Ezra, Jose Estrugo, Ovadia E. haim, Jacob Haim, Jim Habif, Isadore Hatem, Robert Hatem (Hatem changed name to Hattem between 1914 & 1918), Mandolino Levy, Sam Max, J. Mazza, S. Mazza, Salvador Meshulam, Raphael Nahmias, N. Nissim, Jacob(Jack) Notrica, Sam Passy, Alfred(Albert) Rugeti, Isaac Raphael, Jake Sheby, Mordechai Sheby, Maurice Soriano, Saki Souza, Isaac Tovil, Morris Tovil, Alex Tobey and Mordechai Zeitoun.

Mandolino Levy was the provisional president for this very first meeting of La Communidad as it was to be known, and Mr. Adolphe de Castro Danziger was elected the first president of the fledgling organization. Jose Estrugo was elected vice president and secretary. The minutes also note that monthly dues would be $1.00 for each member.

1924 was the year of the first temple family picnic held in Sunland, California. A picture of the attendees to the picnic is located in the temple archives office. It is also the year the Communidad purchased property for a synagogue at 52nd. Street and Second Avenue in southwest Los Angeles. It was impossible to build on the property at the time because temple funds were practically exhausted. Rabbi Caraco died in 1925 and the second rabbi of the community was Rabbi David Tovi who was the spiritual leader for the balance of the 1920s and into the 1930s. Moise H. Hattem acted as the first Gabbai and cantors were made up of volunteers from the community. In 1925 the Sephardic Sisterhood was founded by Mme. Rebecca Hattem. A photo of the Sisterhood founders can be found elsewhere in this web site.

By 1928 the membership had increased sufficiently to preclude using the 52nd. Street property as a home for the growing community. The property was sold and plans were made to build a temple on the corner of then Santa Barbara and LaSalle Avenues. The site was purchased for $12,000.00. From then to the ground breaking ceremony which would take place in 1931 a series of fund raisers and banquets were held to raise money for he construction of the temple.

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