Anshei Sfard (Louisville, Kentucky)

Anshei Sfard, officially affiliated with the Orthodox Union (OU), was one of two Orthodox synagogues (the other being Chabad of Kentucky) in Louisville, Kentucky.[1] Located at 3700 Dutchman's Lane,[2] the synagogue offered Shabbat, and Yom Tov services; events; and a mikveh. Prayer services were conducted in Nusach Ashkenaz.


The congregation was founded by a group of Russian Jewish immigrants in June 1893.[3][4][5] In 1897 and 1898 it occupied a private home owned by Jacob Brownstein on Eighth Street, and for the next few years met in a three-story building at 716 W. Walnut Street[6] (now called Muhammad Ali Boulevard). In 1903 it purchased the former B'rith Sholom synagogue at 511 South First Street.[1][6] This building no longer exists, but it was located at a spot that would be across First Street from what is today The Brown School. The synagogue was forced to move due to the construction of the I-65 interstate highway.[3] The synagogue purchased a 17.5 acres (7.1 ha) lot adjacent to the Jewish Community Center[3] and held its groundbreaking ceremony in April 1957.[1][4] In 1971 Anshei Sfard absorbed another Orthodox congregation, Agudath Achim, bringing its membership up to 300 families.[1] When another Orthodox congregation, Keneseth Israel, became Conservative in 1994, Anshei Sfard remained as the only Orthodox congregation in Louisville.[1]

On October 18, 2015 the synagogue held a contentious meeting to discuss the sale of the synagogue, resulting in police being called by a member to ensure his safety.[7]

In August 2017, it was announced the synagogue had been sold to an out of state land developer, with plans to demolish the building. [8] The Synagogue's life span had been over 119 years.

Rabbinic leadership

In 1903 the Orthodox synagogues in Louisville, under the umbrella of a Vaad HaEr (community council), hired a chief rabbi to act as spiritual leader for all of the city's synagogues, in addition to supervising kashrut, a mikveh, and a Talmud Torah.[9] In the 1910s Anshei Sfard went ahead and hired its own rabbi, Rabbi Z. Klavansky,[10] which caused it to be snubbed by the chief rabbi and the other Orthodox congregations in the city.[1] A second synagogue hired its own rabbi in 1927, causing further divisiveness in the city.[1] The post of chief rabbi of Louisville was finally abolished in 1937.[1]

From 1930 to 1945 the congregation was led by Rabbi Charles Chavel, who went on to produce acclaimed critical editions of classical Jewish commentators on the Bible and Talmud.[3][11] He was succeeded by Rabbi Solomon Roodman, who served from 1946 to 1989.[3] Rabbi Avrohom Litvin took the helm in 1989.[3] Rabbi Litvin resigned in 2013 after 24 years citing infighting and the need for growth and acceptance.[12]

The next designated spiritual leader, was Dr. Joshua Golding, a Professor of Philosophy at Bellarmine University, specializing in philosophy of religion and Jewish philosophy.[13]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities - Louisville, Kentucky". Goldring / Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. 2014. Retrieved 2014. 
  2. ^ Chernofsky, Ellen (1991). Traveling Jewish in America: The Complete Guide for Business & Pleasure (3rd ed.). Wandering You Press. p. 143. ISBN 096171042X. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Kleber, John E. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Louisville. University Press of Kentucky. p. 216. ISBN 0813128900. 
  4. ^ a b "History of Congregation Anshei Sfard". Anshei Sfard. Retrieved 2014. 
  5. ^ Weissbach, Lee Shai (2008). "Louisville". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Weissbach, Lee Shai (1995). The Synagogues of Kentucky: History and Architecture. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 21-23. ISBN 081313109X. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Skolnik, Fred; Berenbaum, Michael (2007). Encyclopaedia Judaica. 13 (2nd ed.). Macmillan Reference USA. p. 225. ISBN 0028659414. 
  10. ^ Landau, Herman (1981). Adath Louisville: The Story of a Jewish Community. H. Landau and Associates. p. 52. 
  11. ^ Sherman, Moshe D. (1996). Orthodox Judaism in America: A Biographical Dictionary and Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 46-47. ISBN 0313243166. 
  12. ^ Anshei Sfard Bulletin, August 2013
  13. ^ "Anshei Sfard Today". Anshei Sfard. Retrieved 2014. 

External links

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