SASSOON YEHUDA SEPHARDI SYNAGOGUE in Melbourne

Danny Jaffé

The building was designed by prominent Melbourne Jewish Architect, - Ben Alexander - and officially opened in November 1994. It was a landmark in the development of the Sephardim community of Melbourne. Located in the heart of the Melbourne Jewish community, within walking distance to Kosher butchers, kosher food outlets , a mikva, Yeshivot and Jewish day schools.

The Synagogue is evocative of similar buildings along the Mediterranean where most of the congregants originated. As in many Moorish buildings it has a «whitewash» finish with many arches and small long windows. Glass bricks have been used extensively to allow light into the building. All of the interior timber is limed, further contributing to a light appearance. The layout provides for seating for 150 women in the upstairs gallery and 250 Men downstairs.

The Synagogue , built on two levels incorporating an elevated ladies gallery. It has a boardroom, Library, Rabbi's office, a kitchen, a multi- purpose area for Kiddushim, an upstairs study area, and an area for a large Succah at the rear. The building has a nice set back position from the road and has palm trees at its doorstep.

The community and its History began in 1965. A few Sephardim came together in order to establish a Sephardi community and Synagogue in a community that is predominately Askenazi. They had a thirst for the Sephardi traditions and a yearning to pass on their cultural individuality to their children through a communal center and Synagogue.

For the next twelve years they hired halls and turned them into places of worship for the High holidays. Sefarim were obtained from Baghdad, Singapore, Canada, South America and Israel.

From 1977 to 1994, the community Synagogue was run from this small converted house, with regular Shabbat services and High Holiday Services.

However, the location of this Synagogue, with all its charm, soon created difficulties in the changing needs of the community's needs. Observant Sephardi congregants needed a place of worship within walking distance from their homes. With little funds they managed to purchase the permanent premises and serve the needs of the community into the 21st century.

The community has now been able to employ the services of a Rabbi, which it has brought from Israel to continue the traditions of this unique community and to pass on the Sephardi culture to its children who live in a predominately Askenazi Diaspora community.

Dany Jaffe Vice President

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