Syrian Jewish communities of the United States

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The Syrian Jewish Communities of the United States are a collection of communities of Syrian Jews, mostly founded at the beginning of the 20th century. The largest are in Brooklyn, Deal, New Jersey and Miami. The population of the New York and New Jersey communities is currently estimated at about 75,000.[1]

New York[edit]

The first Syrian Jews to arrive in the United States were Jacob Dwek and Ezra Sitt, both of Aleppo. They sailed from Liverpool, England on July 22, 1892 on the Germania. After the start of the 20th century, more immigrants came to the U.S. for three reasons: First, an economic decline in Syria crippled their ability to earn a living. Second, the Young Turks, a rebel group responsible for the overthrow of the Ottoman sultan, were conscripting Jews into the Army. Third, the rise of Zionism led to increased anti-Semitism in the Middle Eastern region.[2] Most settled on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Later settlements were in Bensonhurst, Midwood, Flatbush, and along Ocean Parkway in Gravesend, Brooklyn. The latter is considered to be the current center of the community, though the community was formerly centered around the Magen David Synagogue on 67th street in the Bensonhurst neighborhood as listed below:

  • Congregation Shaare Zion, at 2030 Ocean Parkway between Avenue T and Avenue U, housing several synagogues in a single building along with a separate house as an additional annex structure. It is the largest, and is now considered the flagship synagogue of the community. The synagogue was constructed in 1960 in the Gravesend neighborhood, and the community soon followed it there throughout the rest of the 1960s and early 1970s. Currently, the synagogue holds the seat of Chief Rabbi Saul J. Kassin. The Rabbi's father Rabbi Jacob S. Kassin, along with the Rabbi's brother-in-law Rabbi Baruch Ben Haim; were the previous spiritual leaders of the Syrian community in New York respectively, until their passings in 1994 and 2005. Another important rabbinic figure for a number of years was Rabbi Abraham Hecht. But due to conflicting political interests during the 1990s, the Rabbi was forced into submitting his resignation. Sharing in rabbinical duties are Rabbi Yaakov Ben Haim (son of Rabbi Baruch Ben Haim), Rabbi David Maslaton, Rabbi Meyer Yedid, Rabbi Raymond Haber, Rabbi Moshe Lagnado, Rabbi Moshe Arking, and Rabbi Raymond Beyda.[3] The synagogue generally serves the Aleppo or (Halabi) Syrian community.[4]
  • Congregation Magen David Synagogue, at 2017 67th Street between 20th and 21st Avenues. This synagogue was the former flagship of the community, and was erected in 1921. The synagogue was at its height of popularity during the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s. The synagogue is still in continual use for daily and Shabbat prayers. It is also very notable with the community at present for holding funeral services. In 2001, the building was declared a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. By 2004, the building was certified and listed with the National Register of Historic Places. Rabbi Salomon Lankry is the current rabbi presiding over the congregation.

In addition to Syrian Jews proper, the community includes smaller groups of Israeli, Lebanese, Egyptian, Turkish, Moroccan and other similar origins, who have their own place within the overall "Syrian" communal structure. A distinction is also recognized between Halabis (from Aleppo) and Shamis (from Damascus). Furthermore, there is a perceived difference between the Modern Orthodox "White Hats" and those tending to Haredi Judaism "Black Hats", though this is a matter of degree rather than an absolute division. There are no Conservative or Reform congregations affiliated with the Syrian community.

Within the community, there is also a Sephardic Community Center fulfilling functions similar to the national JCC organization. The community is characterized by multi-generational businesses; often, children are encouraged to stay within the family business. Still, many families, recognizing the challenges to financial success posed by a lack of a university degree, have been encouraging undergraduate and graduate education, especially in the fields of business and finance. Those who pursue higher education are encouraged to remain within the familial structure. A number of magazine publications, such as Image[5] and Community Magazine,[6] also cover social topics in relation to the community as a whole.

Presently, there is an array of different synagogues that cater to the community's many different backgrounds, customs and liturgical styles. They are as follows:

Name Image State City Clergy Culture Address, Website
Ahaba Ve Ahva New York Brooklyn Rabbi Shimon Alouf Egyptian 1744 Ocean Parkway,
Ahaba Ve Ahva Congregation & Yeshiva
New York Brooklyn Egyptian 2001 East 7th Street
Ahi Ezer Congregation
Ahi Ezer Congr 1885 Ocean Pkwy jeh.jpg
New York Brooklyn Rabbi Shaul Maslaton Syrian - Shami 1885 Ocean Parkway
Ahi Ezer Torah Center New York Brooklyn Syrian - Shami 1950 East 7th Street
Ahi Ezer Yeshiva Synagogue New York Brooklyn Rabbi Hanania Elbaz Egyptian 2433 Ocean Parkway,
Aur Torah New York Staten Island Rabbi Aharon Zeev Syrian 1180 Rockland Avenue,
Avenue O Synagogue, Ohel Yeshua VeSarah New York Brooklyn Rabbi Shemuel Beyda Syrian 808 Avenue O,
Ateret Torah New York Brooklyn Rabbi Yosef Harari Raful Sephardic Haredim 901 Quentin Road
Bet Shaul U'Miriam
New York Brooklyn Rabbi David Cohen Syrian 2208 Avenue S
Congregation Beth-El of Flatbush New York Brooklyn Rabbi Ani Syrian - Shami 2181 East 3rd Street,
Congregation Beth Torah New York Brooklyn Rabbi Yehuda A. Azancot Syrian 1061 Ocean Parkway,
Beth Yosef New York Brooklyn Rabbi Aharon Farhi Lebanese 2108 Ocean Parkway,
B'nai Yosef Synagogue New York Brooklyn Rabbi Haim Benoliel Syrian, Sephardic Haredim 1616 Ocean Parkway
Bnei Binyamin Torah Center New York Brooklyn Rabbi David Seruya Sephardic Haredim 727 Avenue O
Congregation Bnei Ovadia New York Brooklyn Syrian 1922 East 8th Street
Bnei Shelomo V'Yaffa
New York Brooklyn Rabbi Eliezer Zeytouneh Syrian 1305 Gravesend Neck Road,
Congregation Bnei Yitzhak New York Brooklyn Rabbi Joseph Beyda Syrian 730 Avenue S,
The Edmond J Safra Synagogue New York Brooklyn Rabbi Eli Mansour Syrian 1801 Ocean Parkway,
Edmond J. Safra Synagogue New York Manhattan Rabbi Elie Abadie Syrian 11 East 63rd Street,
Emek Hatorah Congregation New York Brooklyn Syrian 1781 Ocean Parkway
Congregation Har HaLebanon
New York Brooklyn Rabbi David Jemal, Rabbi Clem Harari Lebanese 820 Avenue S
Hayim Shaal Congregation New York Brooklyn Rabbi Mordechai Maslaton Syrian 1123 Avenue N,
Congregation Hochma U'Mussar New York Brooklyn Rabbi Harold Sutton Syrian 718 Avenue S,
Kehilat Bnei Yaakov
New York Brooklyn Rabbi Yaakov Farhi Syrian 630 Avenue S
Keter Sion Torah Center New York Brooklyn Rabbi Max Maslaton Sephardic Haredim 1914 East 8th Street,
Kol Israel Congregation New York Brooklyn Rabbi Tawil, rabbi shweky, rabbi zanulani Syrian 3211 Bedford Avenue,
Congregation Kol Yaakov New York Brooklyn Rabbi Raymond Beyda Lebanese 1703 McDonald Avenue
Kollel Ohel Moshe New York Brooklyn Rabbi Shlomo Lankry Moroccan 1848 East 7th Street
Madison Torah Center New York Brooklyn Rabbi Danny Tawil Syrian 2221 Avenue R
Magen Abraham New York Brooklyn Rabbi Duvi Ben Soussan Syrian - Shami 2066 East 9th Street
Magen David Synagogue of Manhattan New York Manhattan Syrian 177 Sullivan Street,
Magen David Synagogue New York Brooklyn Rabbi Haim Shaul, Rabbi Joey Haber Syrian 2130 McDonald Avenue,
Manhattan Sephardic Congregation New York Manhattan Rabbi Raphael Benchimol 325 East 75th Street,
Midrash Moshe ben Maimon Congregation New York Brooklyn Rabbi Yair Alfieh Syrian - Shami 59 Gravesend Neck Road
Mill Basin Sephardic Congregation New York Brooklyn Rabbi Yirmi Levy Syrian 2133 East 64th Street,
Mishkan Yerushalaim New York Brooklyn Rabbi Yehoshua Alfieh Syrian - Shami 520 Avenue X,
Mikdash Eliyahu Synagogue New York Brooklyn Rabbi Raymond Harari, Rabbi Nissim Syrian 2145 East 2nd Street,
Netivot Israel Congregation New York Brooklyn Rabbi Gad Bouskila Moroccan 1617 Ocean Parkway,
Ohel David & Shlomo - Torat Israel Sephardic Congregation
Синагога на Манхэттен-Бич.JPG
New York Brooklyn Rabbi Yosef Bitton Syrian 710 Shore Boulevard,
Congregation Ohel Moshe New York Brooklyn Rabbi Moshe Levy Syrian 1601 Avenue P
Congregation Ohr Hachaim New York Brooklyn Syrian - Shami 2286 Coney Island Avenue
Rabbi Yehouda Ben Betera Congregation New York Brooklyn Rabbi Yohai Cohen Syrian - Qamishli 2296 Coney Island Avenue,
Sephardic Lebanese Congregation
New York Brooklyn Rabbi Eliyahu Elbaz Lebanese 805 Avenue T,
Sephardic Lebanese Congregation Annex
New York Brooklyn Rabbi Raymond Beyda, Rabbi Solly Mizrahi Lebanese 807 Avenue T
Sephardic Institute Synagogue New York Brooklyn Rabbi Moshe Shamah, Rabbi Ronald Barry Syrian 511 Avenue R,
Congregation Shaare Rahamim New York Brooklyn Rabbi Shlomo Churba Syrian 1244 East 7th Street
Congregation Shaare Shalom
New York Brooklyn Rabbi Avi Harari Syrian, Egyptian 2021 Avenue S,
Shevet Achim Congregation
New York Brooklyn Rabbi Yosheyahu Shammah, Rabbi Yosef Hamra Syrian - Shami 708 Avenue T
Shevet Achim Youth Congregation
New York Brooklyn Syrian - Shami 706 Avenue T
Shuva Israel New York Brooklyn Persian 2015 Avenue R
Tiferet Torah Congregation New York Brooklyn Rabbi Michael Haber Syrian 1741 East 3rd Street
Yad Yosef Torah Center New York Brooklyn Rabbi David Ozeri, Rabbi David Sutton Syrian 1032 Ocean Parkway
Congregation Yam Hatorah New York Brooklyn Rabbi Isaac Mohadeb Syrian 1573 East 10th Street
YDE Synagogue New York Brooklyn Rabbi Ralph Gindi Syrian - Shami 2533 Coney Island Avenue,

New Jersey[edit]

The New Jersey community is mainly based in Monmouth County, especially Deal, Elberon, Long Branch, Oakhurst and Bradley Beach. The community largely consists of people who reside there during the summer months, though some live there permanently, especially in the more inland regions of Eatontown, Oakhurst and West Deal. Hillel Yeshiva, located in Ocean Township, is a notable private school that is popular among the youth of year round residents in the Deal area.

Name Image State City Clergy Culture Address, Website
Bet Rachel New Jersey West Long Branch Rabbi Howard Bald, Rabbi Richard Tobias Syrian 48 Larchwood Avenue
Edmond J. Safra Synagogue of Deal New Jersey Deal Rabbi Isaac Farhi Syrian 75 Hathaway Avenue,
Logan Road Synagogue New Jersey Ocean Township Rabbi Sion Ozeri Syrian 1200 Roseld Avenue
Magen David of West Deal New Jersey West Deal Rabbi Saul J. Kassin, Rabbi Albert Setton, Rabbi Meyer Laniado, Rabbi Joseph Dana Syrian 395 Deal Road,
Magen David Congregation New Jersey Bradley Beach Syrian 101 5th Avenue
Synagogue of Deal New Jersey Deal Rabbi Isaac Dwek Syrian 128 Norwood Avenue
Synagogue of Oakhurst New Jersey Oakhurst Syrian 280 South Lincoln Avenue,
Ohel Simha New Jersey Long Branch Rabbi Shemuel Choueka Syrian 295 Park Avenue,
Ohel Yaacob New Jersey Deal Rabbi Moshe Malka, Rabbi Eli Manour Syrian 4 Lawrence Avenue,
Ahabah Ve Ahva New Jersey Deal Rabbi Michael Haber, Rabbi Joey Haber Egyptian 108 Norwood Avenue,
Shaare Ezra New Jersey Long Branch Rabbi David Nahem Syrian 36 Cedar Avenue,
Ohel Yis'hak Sephardic Synagogue New Jersey Allenhurst Rabbi Moshe Shamah Syrian 108 Allen Avenue
Magen Avraham New Jersey West Long Branch Rabbi Reuven Semah Syrian 479 Monmouth Road,
Shaare Tefilah New Jersey Eatontown Rabbi Moshe Douek, Rabbi Victor Gheriani Syrian 20 Whalepond Road,


South Florida serves as a winter retreat for many Syrian Jews from the New York metropolitan area. The majority live in a gated community called Turnberry in Aventura and near-by in Sunny Isles facing the beach.

Name Image State City Clergy Culture Address, Website
Edmond J. Safra Synagogue of Turnberry Florida Aventura Rabbi Galimidi Syrian 19275 Mystic Pointe Drive,
Shaare Zion of Florida Florida Sunny Isles Beach Rabbi Aaron Lankry Syrian 200 178th Street
Shaare Ezra Sephardic Congregation Florida Miami Beach Rabbi Sova Syrian 945 41st Street,


Name Image State City Clergy Culture Address, Website
Congregation Magen David California Beverly Hills Rabbi Ariel Ovadia Syrian 322 North Foothill Road,


Name Image State City Clergy Culture Address, Website
Magen David Sephardic Congregation Maryland Rockville Rabbi Haim Ovadia Syrian 11215 Woodglen Drive,


Name Image State City Clergy Culture Address, Website
Beit Harambam Sephardic Congregation Pennsylvania Philadelphia Rabbi Moshe Arbiv Israeli 9981 Verree Road

References list[edit]

  1. ^ Chafets, Zev (October 14, 2007). "The Sy Empire". The New York Times. Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  2. ^ Roffé, Sarina (2007). "The Jews of Aleppo". Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Rabbis/Hazzanim". Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Overview". Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Jewish Image". Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Community Magazine". Retrieved January 20, 2017. 

External links[edit]