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About Us

The Sephardim who came to Indianapolis settled in a small area near the 500-600 block of South Illinois Street. As new arrivals came in, they moved further south as far as Morris Street. They lived within an area covering the 800-1100 blocks of South Illinois Street, South Capital Avenue, Church Street, Maple Street (now Kenwood Avenue), and Senate Avenue.

During 1911-1913 the families of Aroseli, Calderon, Camhi, Eskalyo, Nahmias, Toledo, and Yosha came from Monastir. These families, along with the Toledanos, Meshulams, and Cohens formed the Sephardic community in Indianapolis. Other families arriving later from both Monastir and Salonika were Alboher, Baruch, Cassorla, Elias, Eskenazi, Farash, Hazen, Mordoh, Nefouse, Pardo, Passo, Profeta, Russo, and Sarfaty.

Since they had no Kahal (synagogue) they used the Communal Building (Concord Center) for religious services and other important functions such as weddings, bar-mitzvahs, etc. The first wedding in the Sephardic community was that of Solomo M. Nahmias to Clara Shamin, 1913, in the downstairs game room of the Communal Building.

During the 1930s, in the summertime on Sundays and American holidays, the congregation sponsored picnics at Garfield, Columbia, and German parks. Members and their families were loaded into chartered buses and trucks, with bushel baskets of food to last the entire day. A Sephardic weekly publication called "La Vara," printed in Ladino (Spanish written with Hebrew letters), kept the community informed of important events and national news. Historical essays, poetry, and fiction were also a part of the newspaper. This paper, published in New York by Albert Levy, was an important link with the rest of the Sephardic world. It was published from 1922 to 1948.

In 1963, a synagogue committee consisting of Albert P. Nahmias, Morris P. Nahmias, Jack I. Cohen, Morris G. Calderon, Leon J. Calderon, Isaac Levy, Al Mordoh, and Sol Mordoh, all of blessed memory, purchased the Pleasant View Lutheran Church at the corner of 64th and Hoover Road. The steeple was removed first, and extensive remodeling and additions were made to convert It to a proper place of worship for the congregation. A special celebration and reception was held when the Torahs were moved from the old synagogue to the new one.

Through the incredible generosity of our members and our community, Etz Chaim Sephardic Congregation broke ground in March of 2005 at the corner of 70th and Hoover Road (in front of Hooverwood and, now, Kraft Commons) in Indianapolis on its first new synagogue in its illustrious history. We honored our long time tradition of walking our Torahs from the 64th and Hoover Road location to the new synagogue. We opened in time for high holiday services in 2005. We have a unique and relevant place of worship that accommodates our Congregation, as well as the needs of the Jewish Community.

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