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Several Jewish families of Sephardic descent had already formed a community in Brussels well before World War I and prior to all official recognition.  However, this community experienced its first wave of growth in the interwar period, during the Great Depression of 1930, to be exact, due to the massive influx of Sephardic Jews from Turkey and Greece and especially from Saloniki, Istanbul, and Izmir.  The community did not have a synagogue at the time.  The major New Year’s services were thus held in various places.  One of these venues was the Egmont Palace’s former stables, which were rented for the occasion.

The Sephardic community flourished under the impetus of its president Conrad Franco.  The great generosity of Lina and Simon Haim, an extraordinary pair of benefactors, contributed to this development.

The tragedy of the Holocaust, which wreaked havoc in the Jewish community in general, obviously did not spare the Sephardic community.  It likewise paid a heavy tribute at the time.  Only after World War II was it granted official recognition, by a Royal Decree of June 23, 1958.

The Sephardic community’s new lease on life was due to the devotion and dynamism of several of its members.  A significant contribution to its renewal was also made by the post-war arrival in Brussels of Sephardic Jews from Morocco, the Isle of Rhodes (via the Belgian Congo), Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran.

The young Sephardic Jewish Community embarked on a plan to build a synagogue in the Brussels borough of Schaerbeek in December 1966.  This synagogue, in Rue du Pavillon, was inaugurated on December 20, 1970, in the presence - and with the blessings - of the local authorities.

Today, the community per se is backed up by two connected institutions, the non-profit association Synagogue, which is in charge of keeping the superb prayer hall in excellent condition, and a charity.  When it comes to religious affairs, the community has been run competently and sensitively by its Chief Rabbi, Shalom Benizri, since 1970.  The influence and dynamism of Brussels’s Sephardic Jewish Community are without a doubt a beacon for Belgium’s Sephardim.

The community opened a new center at 150 Winston Churchill Avenue, in Uccle, in 2007 for the purpose of drawing closer to its members and organizing religious and cultural activities there that could reach out to the entire Jewish community of Brussels.