Ahavath Ahim Congregation (Jewish), is founded in 1914.

  • By Lee Micklin
  • Posted 1/06/1999
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 665
Ahavath Ahim Congregation, is founded by Sephardim from the Island of Marmara and the Balkans in 1914.

Ahavath Ahim met informally as early as 1909, with the entire Sephardic Jewish community participating. Factionalism based on specific place of origin divided the Sephardic community and in 1914 two groups -- Congregations Ezra Bessaroth and Sephardic Bikur Cholim -- acquired their own places of worship.

The Ahavath Ahim group, consisting of the very first Sephardic pioneers to arrive in Seattle, remained independent. For many years, they met on the High Holidays in a rented hall. In 1922 they built their own synagagoe on 17th Avenue and East Fir.

In 1928, a Women's Auxiliary was formed. In 1929, a sum remaining after paying off the mortgage on the sanctuary was used to purchase cemetery grounds from Ashkenazic Bikur Cholim.

Until 1925, talented members of Ahavat Ahim conducted services, sang, and read from the Torah. From 1925 until 1931, Rabbi Sabetai Israel served the Congregation. The Congregation then hired Reverend Morris Scharhon.

In 1929, meetings were held to consider amalgamation with Sephardic Bikur Cholim. No decision was reached, but many members left the synagogue and joined Sephardic Bikur Cholim anyway. Ahavath Ahim continued for another 10 years. Finally they could not carry on with such a small membership and the synagogue was closed. The first contingent to leave agreed to merge with Sephardic Bikur Cholim provided the name be changed to Sephardic Bikur Cholim-Ahavath Ahim, which it was. But in the 1960s Sephardic Bikur Cholim reverted to the previous name for the sake of brevity. Other members of Ahavat Ahim joined Ezra Bessaroth.

Three of the four Torahs which Ahavath Ahim owned are now housed at Ezra Bessaroth. The fourth Torah was donated to a new immigrant village in Israel that had a minyan (quorum needed for worship services) but no Torah. 

Sources: Albert Adatto, "Sephardim and the Seattle Sephardic Community" (M.A. thesis, University of Washington, 1939); Isaac Maimon, "History of Ahavat Ahim Congregation" Nizcor: Washington State Jewish Historical Society Newsletter Spring 1996.

Related Topics:   Jews in Washington | Religion | Roots

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