A Brief History of Magain David Sephardim Congregation
- October 9, 1934 - Congregation is founded as Beth El Sephardim Congregation by 50 families in San Francisco.
The name is changed to Magain David Sephardim Congregation the following month. There are over 40 different traditions included in the new membership and discussions from the very start over how to best spell "Magain" to reflect a sephardic pronounciation.
Soon thereafter the congregation agrees to merge with a small band of sephardic jews known as The Spanish Congregation.
The founding board includes Albert Ades, Ezekiel Battat, Ezra Battat, I. Benezra, Roger Bramy, William Cicurel, Eddie Fisse, Jack Halfon, Sam Halfon, Sam Hazan, Eli Israel, Jack Piha, Jack Rain, Sam Rain, and Edward Sassoon. Additional supporters and other early members include Albert Ardity, Joseph Cattan, Joe Haber, Sam Hasson, Albert Levy, Abadie Mizrahie, SJ Semaira, Mrs. Warden Simmons and Mr. Tabush.
The congregation is the first sephardic congregation with their own synagogue in San Francisco, a facility which they purchase from Temple Shalom (today Congregation Beth Shalom).
- December 9, 1934 - Magain David Sephardim Congregation formally opens its doors at 351 Fourth Avenue.
The opening dedication is attended by many notables, including representatives of the Mayor and Board of Supervisors, as well as Rabbis and Presidents of other regional synagogues.
Besides regular daily and shabbat services, the synagogue begins operating a Sunday school, Ahabat Shalom, later Sephardic Hebrew School, run by Rev JK Isaacs.
- September 22, 1935 - the congregation adds a new Sefer Torah, donated by Synagogue Beth Aharon of Shanghai, China. The dedication ceremony is attended by Rabbis from throughout the city.
- August 1936 - the congregation participates in anti fascist movements. The synagogue's president, Roger Bramy, presciently writes an article that the "Fate of European Jewry Hinges on the Turn of the Spanish Revolution". Throughout the decade the congregation hosts meetings of anti-Nazi committees at the synagogue.
- As the congregation continues to grow, it is led through the 1940s by several rabbis including Rabbi Ezekiel Sion Jacob. The congregation becomes a home to a chapter of the Bnai Brith Youth Organization in 1951.
- A group of war refugees from Europe, largely from Germany, form Congregation Bnei Emunah and use the synagogue's facilities through the 1950s. Magain David also lends that congregation a Torah scroll.
- Rabbi Jacob, a fixture of the congregation as its religious leader in the 1940, 50s and 60s, retires and makes aliyah to Israel in 1966.
- Synagogue membership is revived in the late-1970s with the introduction of new congregational leadership. Rabbi Hayyim Kassorla leads the congregation throughout much of the 1980s and consolidates the many contradictory minhagim into one general sephardic practice in accordance with the Jerusalem minhag.
- In 1990, Rabbi Eliahu Shalom Ezran becomes the congregation's rabbi, a position held until his retirement in 2013. Under his tenure, the synagogue expands its social hall and kitchen facilities. A school is once again opened in the synagogue, with 30 children enrolled in classes at its peak.
In 2007, the synagogue undergoes a significant internal renovation, moving the Ark (Hechal) from where it had stood on the western side of the synagogue since 1935 over to the Eastern side.
It is rededicated as The Azan Sanctuary.
- Today the synagogue is home to over 100 families and an extended group of participants in services from throughout the Bay Area and covering a wide variety of Jewish backgrounds. The congregation continues to fulfill its foundational mission of providing a home for traditional Sephardic Judaism and services to its community.