Leon Behar, Sephardic Synagogue Theater Director, Seattle, Washington

Leon Behar:

Sephardic Synagogue Theater Director

Values Codes: I-E-P


Leon Behar was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1900.

Leon Behar was the founder and director of the Jewish National Troupe, a successful amateur theater group, in Istanbul.


Along the way …

Leon Behar came to Seattle, Washington, in 1920, with his wife, Rebecca Behar (b. 1903).

When he arrived in the United States, Leon Behar worked in a shoe repair shop.


In 1922, Leon Behar directed “Dreyfus” for Congregation Ezra Bessaroth’s fundraiser for Sephardic Talmud Torah of Seattle.

Most of Behar’s plays were produced as synagogue fundraisers in the Washington Hall building at 14th Avenue and East First.


Leon Behar’s acting troupe was known as the amateur Sephardic Drama Group.

Behar prefered to rent elaborate costumes for his actors so that his productions looked more professional than if the costumes were handmade.

Many of the plays were performed in Ladino.


When the Great Depression began, in 1929, Behar’s theatrical career became a hobby, no longer his main focus.

During World War II, Leon Behar worked as an electrician at the local shipyards.

After the war, Leon Behar opened a grocery store.

Leon Behar spoke six languages fluently.



Leon and Rebecca Behar had four daughters: Sara, Lena, Matilda and Josephine.

Leon Behar died, in 1970, in Seattle.

Rebecca Behar died, in 1965.

They are both buried in the Sephardic Brotherhood Cemetery in Washington.



For more information see Western States Jewish History:

  •  The Sephardic Theater of Seattle Jewry, by Angel, Marc D. WSJH Oct. 1996,

Samantha Silver is our Curator for this Henry Leavitt Virtual Exhibit.

We would appreciate any pictures of the Leon Behar family.