History of Congregation Anshei Sfard
How we were formed
It all started about 125 years ago. It was 1892 when a small group of ardent champions of Torah-true Judaism met in a dimly-lit upstairs meeting hall located in downtown Louisville at 7th and Market Streets to hold a High Holiday Service. What was lacking in physical décor was readily overshadowed by the ebullient spirit manifested by those enthusiastic participants. In June of 1893 a committee of six met with the Clerk of the County Court of Jefferson County of the State of Kentucky to draw up the Articles of Incorporation. Receiving the Clerk’s approval, each member of the committee affixed his signature on the aforesaid document and thus Congregation Anshei Sfard was launched.
Our First Building
With time, the membership grew and soon it became evident that larger quarters were needed to house the congregation. Finding that the building housing the old B’rith Sholem Temple at 511 South First Street was up for sale, the Board of Directors voted to purchase the building. After many repairs and added improvements, the building became the home of Congregation Anshei Sfard, and services were conducted every day and on Shabbat and Yom Tov. In time, a downstairs ladies section and a large upstairs social hall were added, and in 1928 the new addition was formally dedicated. Soon a Sisterhood, a Men’s Club and a Sunday School were organized. Classes in Jewish studies were introduced to serve both younger and older members of the congregation.
An Unexpected Challenge
In early 1950, the Officers and Board of Directors received a letter from the City Planning Commission stating that the proposed North-South Expressway would mean that a section of the synagogue building would be needed and the congregation should plan to relocate. Though somewhat discouraged, we did not despair. We actually gained new strength by uniting together and planning a new fund-raising drive so that we could purchase a new location for our educational center and chapel that could accommodate our rapidly growing 150 member congregation. In 1955 our building-fund drive enabled the congregation to secure a seventeen and one-half acre parcel of land adjoining the Jewish Community Center.
A Whole New Beginning
Soon after purchasing land, the Congregation sold several acres to the Jewish Community Center since it needed additional playing fields. In return, the Jewish Community Center provided us with some funds with which we could begin building our new synagogue. The Jewish Community Center also allowed us to conduct High Holiday Services in its spacious auditorium. The Officers and Board of Directors proceeded to launch a capital fund-raising drive. The plans ambitiously called for the construction of a new building, a sanctuary, a social hall, a library, a Rabbi’s study, a business office, a meat and dairy kitchen, a bride’s room, a lobby and a connecting hallway to the Education Center. We carefully selected architects and began a new chapter in our history. A grand groundbreaking ceremony was held in April 1957.
Through the years, we have continued to improve and update our facility. Today, we use our very beautiful and spacious building as the center of our many religious and social activities. We are proud that while the local Jewish community has undergone major religious and cultural changes throughout the past several decades, Congregation Anshei Sfard has remained a beacon of orthodoxy in this community and this state.