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Our History

The first Sephardic Jews appeared in the Washington DC area around 1924. Most of these early arrivals were from Turkey and Greece. Moroccan Jews began to arrive in the early 40's, followed by others from Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. Gradually they came together to build the foundation of what would become Magen David Sephardic Congregation.

In 1966, a board of directors was formed, and a charter was enacted. For many years, the congregation lacked a permanent home. Ashkenazi synagogues generously offered spaces for prayer and activities. During these early years, services and social activities had a decidedly Moroccan flavor, but by 1982 the congregation included members from a variety of backgrounds, and the synagogue was taking on a broader Middle Eastern and North African character. Ashkenazi Jews appeared first as casual visitors, but captivated by the warmth of the people and the vibrancy of the prayer service, many became steadfast members. MDSC warmly welcomed European-style influences, while at the same time maintaining and preserving its Sephardic essence.

In 1984, the congregation began to look for a home it could call its own. A building on the corner of Tilden Lane and Old Georgetown Road in Rockville, Maryland was purchased in 1984, and the first Shabbat service in the new location took place in May 1986.

In 1987, the congregation welcomed its first full-time Rabbi, Hayyim Kassorla, whose Torah knowledge and youthful enthusiasm attracted many new members. By 1992, the congregation numbered 250 families.

Once again a larger space was needed, and the dream was to acquire a permanent and lasting home. A convenient location was found, land was purchased, and an architectural style that celebrates our Sephardic roots was selected.The result was an elegant Moorish exterior and a stately, evocative sanctuary. The first prayers were said in the new sanctuary in June 1998.

After Rabbi Kassorla's departure, the congregation was served from 2005 to 2014 by Rabbi Joshua Maroof, and from 2015 to 2018 by Rabbi Haim Ovadia.

*the above photo commemorates an historic 2007 visit to MDSC by Rabbi ​Shlomo Amar, Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel 

MDSC is defined by a unique sense of kinship. We feel a responsibility for every member of our diverse congregation. Those who encounter difficult times can count on aid and support from their leaders and their fellow members. MDSC has always welcomed not only Sephardim and Mizrahim, but Jews from all backgrounds. We love to share the beauty and sanctity of our building, as well as the richness of our melodies and minhagim. Inclusiveness and warmth are hallmarks of our religious services, as we celebrate daily the joy and vibrancy of Sephardic Jewish life.

Sun, January 24 2021 11 Shevat 5781