Wilshire & Warner 1975 – 1993

Tradition Unity Long

Wilshire & Warner 1975 – 1993

In 1975 the move to the Wilshire & Warner site was made albeit the temple sanctuary hadn’t been built as yet. Services were held in the social hall known as Amado Hall in memory of Maurice Amado one of the temple’s benefactors.

In 1979 a two day festival, Sephardic ‘79 was held in the sanctuary site as a fund raiser for the new temple sanctuary. In September, 1981 the temple sanctuary was dedicated. It was a dream come true. In the words of the B’nai B’rith Messenger, which described the ceremony as follows. In a tradition as old as the Exodus itself, they marched with their Youth and their elders together in a procession with canopy and song taking the Sifrei Torah to the new main sanctuary of Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel which was dedicated on Sunday, September 15.

The impressive ceremony was the culmination of two decades of effort to bring about the complete relocation of Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel from its Santa Barbara Avenue location dedicated some 50 years ago, to the new Wilshire Boulevard location, at Warner Avenue. Witness to this full cycle of development was Rabbi Edgar F. Magnin, of Wilshire Boulevard Temple who spoke at the dedication of the old temple on Santa Barbara Avenue, and also delivered the inspirational message for the new sanctuary’s dedication.

There was hardly a dry eye among the more than 1000 guests when the blasts of the Shofar (rams horn) greeted the procession of Torahs being brought into the new sanctuary. It was with joy and gladness that the congregates reached out to kiss the torahs as they were paraded seven times around the temple. It was the same emotional spirit that Aron Cohen, the temple’s Gabbai for half a century pronounced the prayer of thanksgiving before the torahs placed in the new ark with song and prayer led by Cantor Isaac Behar.

The main sanctuary is a gift of the Maurice Amado Foundation to the temple. The foundation was established before his death by the late Maurice Amado, a leading Sephardic philanthropist. Richard Amado, the foundation president made the presentation which was accepted by Hyman Jebb Levy, the temple’s president. Ralph A. Amado, Chairman of the Building Committee is the grandson of Raphael Amado, along with Isadore M. Hattem and Morris Passy were leaders in the building of the first temple on Santa Barbara Avenue.

Max Candiotty, Chairman of the Temple Religion Committee was Master of Ceremonies. A highlight of the event was the appearance and an address by California Governor Jerry Brown. In his dedicatory address Rabbi Ott highlighted the concept of the spirit of the new temple, saying that it was,” new in substance but old in spirit and tradition.” The colorful ceremonies concluded on a note of solemnity and inspiration when Aron Cohen led the congregation in a memorial prayer for the repose of the souls of the builders who departed, and when Cantor Behar led the congregation in the afternoon service.

In 1980 member Bob Hattem suggested to then president Lou Alcalay that there should be a monthly temple newsletter instead of the infrequent bulletins that were published usually during the High Holidays. He appointed Bob as Chairman of the Publications committee and the newsletter, El Shofar, the name at Lou’s suggestion was born. Bob was appointed as the first editor and the first issue was published in January of 1981. Bob retired in 1987 to become the temple’s first archivist/historian. The second editor was Sue Halfon of blessed memory, followed Jack Israel and the current editor is Vicki Karmona.

On the morning of October 1, 1987, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia were greeted on the steps of the temple by Rabbi Ott, Dr. Seymour Eiseman, president of the congregation, Mrs. Raquel Bensimon, Senior Vice President and Mrs. Arlette Cohen, president of the Temple Sisterhood. When the royal couple entered the sanctuary they were honored by the blasts of six shofroth (rams horns) led by Cantor Isaac Behar and a jubilant congregation singing Havenu Shalom Alehem. It was for all a new page of history in the making; the Sephardim had waited, sometimes with hope, sometimes with dispair for five hundred years to witness such an event.

For forty-five wonderful minutes it was Camelot Sephardic style. Speeches were made, presentations were made and even the 5.5 earthquake that shook Los Angeles that morning didn’t make any difference. It was the first time in over five hundred years that a Spanish monarch had visited a Jewish synagogue and all in attendance enjoyed every moment. In 1993 Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel and Sephardic Beth Shalom, the former Sephardic Hebrew Center merged and after 80 years the congregation of Avat Shalom of 1912 was once more one spiritual family.

Following their retirement, Rabbi Ott was replaced by Rabbi Bouskila and Cantor Mizrahi was replaced by Haim Mizrahi. Rabbi Refael Cohen is the current Senior Rabbi.

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