Sephardic Congregation Ahavath Achim: Seattle, Washington, 1909-1940

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Congregation Ahavath Achim, 1909-1940

 

Congregation Ahavath Ahim was founded in 1909 by Sephardic immigrants to Seattle from Rhodes, Tekirdag, Marmara and Istanbul. 

They met for religious services at a house on Washington Street.

For High Holidays, they rented rooms at the Washington Hall building at 14th and East Fir Street.

Services were lay-lead by David Levy and Yacovachi Eshenazi.

 

Building a Synagogue – 1922

In 1920, Congregation Ahavath Achim purchased an empty lot on 17th Avenue and East Fir Street, not far from their Sephardic contemporaries at Congregation Ezra Bessaroth and Sephardic Bikur Cholim.

By 1922, their synagogue building was completed.

Congregation Ahavath Achim operated without an official Rabbi – relying on their membership to lead services, etc. – until 1925, when they hired Rabbi Sabetai Israel Rabbi Israel served the congregation until 1931 as Rabbi and Hazzan, mohel and  shochet.

In 1929, due to its small membership, there were rumors of a merger with Sephardic Bikur Cholim.

In 1931, Congregation Ahavat Achim engaged Reverend Morris L. Scharhon as their spiritual leader.

Rev. Scharhon ran a private Hebrew school with his brother-in-law Rev. David Behar.

In addition to serving as Congregation Ahavat Achim’s Rabbi, became a shochet.

After the dissolution of the congregation, Rev. Scharhon became the Hazzan at Sephardic Bikur Cholim and opened a Kosher butcher and grocery store on Jackson Street that his sons operated.

In 1940, Congregation Ahavat Achim closed its doors.  Congregants joined Sephardic Bikur Cholim and Congregation Ezra Bessaroth.

In 1945, the synagogue building was rented by the Jordan Club as a meeting hall.  Three of their Sefarim (Torah Scrolls) were removed and given to Congregation Ezra Bessaroth for safekeeping.   One Sefer Torah was donated to a small community of immigrants in Israel.

 

Ahavat Achim Men’s Club and Ladies Auxiliary — 1955

In 1955, a group of former Ahavat Achim members reconvened as a social club to maintain the cemetery plots and work for charitable causes.

They called themselves the Ahavat Achim Men’s Club.

In 1957, their wives founded the Ahavat Achim Ladies Auxiliary.

In 1960, the Ahavat Achim Club sold their property on 17th   Avenue and Fir Street to a church group.

In 1996, the members of the Ahavat Achim Club held meetings at Sephardic Bikur Cholim, in the Fellowship Room.

This is the only Sephardic social club in Seattle.

 

For more information see the following issue of Western States Jewish History:

  • Maimon, Isaac. “History of the Ahavath Ahim Congregation, Club, Auxiliary and Center.” Western States Jewish History,Vol. 29/#1

Samantha Silver is our Curator for this Ahavat Ahim Virtual Exhibit.

We would appreciate any pictures of the Congregation.

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