1931-World War II The Early Temple Years

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1931-World War II The Early Temple Years

By 1931 La Communidad grew to a little over 125 members and the time had come for the ground- breaking of the soon-to-be-built kehila or synagogue. Ground-breaking ceremonies took place on September 1, 1931. This occurred under the administration of Salvador Meschulam. Signatures of the original founders and those at the ground-breaking ceremonies can be found on documents located in the temple archives.

Much hard work followed and by 1932, in the depths of the greatest depression this country has ever known, the synagogue, Tifereth Israel was completed and dedicated right on schedule. The Santa Barbara Avenue Temple was the first Sephardic synagogue be built in Los Angeles. It was a lovely California style building in cream color stucco with an interior that followed the classic Sephardic design. The tevah or reader’s desk was in the center of the sanctuary. It faced the Ehal (ark)and the worshipers sat along side one another both women and men together so as not to separate families. As Rabbi Ott would later describe, “the congregants face each other instead of seeing the back of the necks of the people sitting in front. The rabbi isn’t the center of the service. The Torah is and the community sees itself around it.

The temple was dedicated on February 21, 1932 with invited guests including the mayor of Los Angeles and other dignitaries of the day. One month later in march, 1932 the first three Bar Mitzvahs in the new synagogue took place. Maurice I. Hattem was Bar Mitzvah on March 26, 1932 as was Elias Morjoseph and the late Ted Cadis of blessed memory during the same month. The first wedding occurred in October of that year. Victor Behar and Alice Cohen were married.

In 1935 a group known as the Juniors of Temple Tifereth Israel was founded with Jack Cohen as its first president. Isaac R. “Ike” Caraco was the second president and Morris Hazen was the third. Originally the group was made up of Tifereth Israel members but soon it included members from the Sephardic Hebrew Center and even some Ashkenazi members. A microcosm of the Los Angeles Jewish Community, so to speak.

It was in May of 1933 that a Talmud Torah was founded under the leadership of Jessie Caraco, Chairman of the Talmud Torah Committee. This was during the administration of Raphael S. Amado. During the later part of the 1930s the property adjacent to the synagogue was purchased to improve the parking facility. This was carried out under the administration of Jack Kiok.

Prior to World War II monies were raised to help the United Jewish Welfare Fund, the different Jewish agencies in Europe and Palestine and work was beginning to help the war effort.

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