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Anshe Sfard History
Congregation Anshe Sfard was founded in 1913 by a group of immigrants who had been in Peabody for several years. As new immigrants were constantly arriving, the need for this Shul became of prime importance. A committee was formed and soon located and rented space at 57 Main St. It became evident that larger, more permanent quarters would shortly be needed as the Congregation continued to flourish and grow. A committee was formed to locate a proper building and more importantly to raise the funds needed to purchase and renovate such a building for use as a Synagogue. Needless to say, the money was raised through a great effort on the part of this committee. Many nickels, dimes, and quarters were contributed by dedicated friends and members of Congregation Anshe Sfard. These funds enabled the Congregation to purchase the small brick structure and 7 Littles Lane, a former stable, and convert this building to what most of us fondly remember as the "Little Shul." The first service was conducted here April 15, 1916, appropriately, Pesach.
The charter members were: David Scholnick, Morris Shaktman, David Rosenfelt, Louis Ankeles, Joseph Lerner, Barney Krasnigor, and Joseph Kardonsky. The Presidents were: Louis Lerner, Samuel Liss, Benjamin Tevrowsky, Frank Gordon, David Rosenfelt, Morris Goldstein, Jacob Halpern, Abraham Bazer, David Kaplan, David Scholnick, and Saul Tanzer. Saul Tanzer became President in 1945 through 1978. The first Cantor and Torah Reader was Mandel Gladstone, followed by Rev. Samuel Dandes and Oscar Siegal. Rev. Dandes, together with his wife, Rose, also conducted a Hebrew School from the early 1920's for more than thirty years. Frank Fleishman was Secretary for many years and his reports given in Yiddish were always a thing of beauty.
In September, 1941, a new vestry social hall was completed and the mortgage paid off. The Ladies' Auxiliary was established in 1917 and did much to raise money and aid in many functions. The first President was Elizabeth Shaktman followed by Esther Ankeles, Ida Bazer, and Florence Herman.
For many years the Shul prospered. New members joined, many second generation offspring of the original member families. Unfortunately, hard times fell on this Shul. Many factors contributed to the closing of the Shul: appealing new Temples, old members moving away, and of course the passing away of many of the members. The Synagogue was dismantled in 1978 and the building sold. The Holy Ark and Memorial Tablets are now located in this Congregation Sons of Israel; a Torah scroll is a Lake Havasu City, Arizona; chandeliers are in California and seats are at Hillel Houses in New England. Space available limits us to this short history, but to many of us, the memories of the "Little Shul" are very much alive and meaningful and will remain in our hearts forever.
Nathan Tanzer, 1985