Leon Behar: Sephardic Synagogue Theater Director, Seattle, Washington

Leon Behar

Values Codes I – E – L – P


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

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



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

When he arrived in the United States, Leon 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.

His acting troupe was known as the amateur Sephardic Drama Group.

Behar preferred 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 and no longer his main focus.

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

After the war, he 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.



  •  Marc D. Angel, “The Sephardic Theater of Seattle Jewry,” Western States Jewish History 29/1.

Samantha Silver is curator of this Leon Behar exhibit.