The Edmond J. Safra Synagogue
The name “Edmond J. Safra” is synonymous with philanthropy and benevolence. A Lebanese-born Jew who rose to prominence in the banking industry, Mr. Safra supported a remarkable diversity of institutions and charities during his lifetime. While his legacy of giving affected Jewish communities worldwide, his generosity may have had its greatest impact on the various Sephardic Jewish communities in the United States and abroad. An example of how Mr. Safra’s policy of supporting new Jewish institutions continues even after his untimely death can be found in the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue.
During his lifetime, Mr. Safra was often in New York City and spent many Shabbatoth in Manhattan. Noting the absence of a formal synagogue and communal center for the Sephardim of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Mr. Safra expressed a desire to build a central house of worship in the area. As was his practice, he undertook to move this idea from a vision to a reality. Through the dedication and efforts of his wife, Mrs. Lily Safra, and a team of skilled artisans, the synagogue was completed in December 2002. Dignitaries including the Chief Rabbi of Israel and Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended an official inauguration of the building. Praise for the edifice was exceeded only by praise for the man who foresaw it and his wife who completed it.
Since opening its doors in March, 2003, the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue has become the communal center that its namesake imagined it would. Under the spiritual guidance of Rabbi Elie Abadie, the synagogue offers regular religious services including daily minyanim, a bi-weekly Bet Midrash program, liturgy studies and daily tehilim readings. Moreover, the synagogue has become a prominent social, cultural and educational center having hosted conferences and lectures, parenting and cooking classes, singles’ events, children’s programs and a variety of cultural and educational events.
The Edmond J. Safra Synagogue is well-located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan at 11 East 63rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues and regularly hosts guests from around the world. The congregation is comprised of many families from a medley of Middle Eastern backgrounds and it is prepared to welcome all those interested in worshipping with this new, vibrant Jewish community.
The Shuva Israel Community is a global organization with synagogues, learning institutions and social service outreach to the needy in the U.S. and throughout the world. There are currently Shuva Israel Community establishments located in New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens), Miami, Los Angeles, Israel and Argentina.
The Shuva Israel Community was founded in 1997 by Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto when he was in his early 20s; the first establishment, called Pinot, was in Ashdod, Israel, and established a tradition of taking no financial aid from the state so as not to create resentment among taxpayers that might distance them from Judaism.
All Shuva Israel establishments focus strongly on community service or “Chessed” programs, that include soup kitchens and other charitable and philanthropic acts. More than 3,000 daily hot meals are delivered discretely to the homes of needy people in Israel, and the U.S. During the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashana and Pessah, more than 12,000 packages filled with meat, wine and other staples are distributed.
Each Friday, Kosher food, candles, wine and bread are given to those who are hospitalized. Financial assistance, especially to widows and orphans, is also provided to hundreds of people in the Shuva Israel communities and Torah scholarships are provided to hundreds of young scholars around the world.
About Manhattan Sephardic Congregation
Originating in 1990 as a dwelling for a few wandering and devout-seeking congregants, MSC has grown to become a full-service venue for Sephardic worship and learning. With an array of adult education classes, daily services (morning and evening), as well as Shabbat and Holidays, visiting lectures, singles events, children’s programs and other exciting activities, MSC offers a warm, inviting, spirited communal outlet for all Jewish people.
MSC has hosted prominent dignitaries and personalities as well as world renown rabbis: Among them, Chief Sephardic Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and Rabbi Bakshi Doron, Chief Rabbi of France, Rabbi Yosef Sitruk, famed Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, Rabbi Shalom Messas, ZT”L, Former Foreign Minister of Israel, Mr. David Levy and many other MKs and dignitaries from Israel, Morocco, France and the United States.
Throughout the millennia, our Jewish brethren have made great contributions and sacrifices for the preservation of our rich heritage so that their children and future generations would embrace and safeguard our precious history, practices and unique role in this world. We invite members and non-members alike to perform what is perhaps one of the most significant Mitzvot of all, to be founders and partners in this entity that is dedicated to the perpetuation of sephardic Jewish ideals, legacies that have withstood the test of time. We invite you to take full advantage of this joyful and exciting opportunity, to invest in our proud tradition.