History of Nessah
History of Nessah
Nessah Synagogue’s history is a rich one, beginning with Rabbi David Shofet immigrating to Los Angeles in 1980 from Tehran. Rabbi Shofet knew that the wave of immigration from Iran to the United States, and specifically Los Angeles, meant that there needed to be a place of prayer, a Kenissa (Synagogue) where Iranian Jews could prayer together, maintaining the traditions and way of life as they had in Iran. You can take the Jew out of Iran, but you can’t take Iran out of the Jew!
The first step to building what is now Nessah Educational and Cultural Center was a small prayer group held at Beth Jacob (also an Orthodox congregation). The first Shabbat only 9 men showed up, so they had to “borrow” a Beth Jacob congregant in order to pray! But by the second Shabbat, more than 20 people came to pray! And in the weeks that followed the numbers kept increasing, reaching close to 300. It was at this time that Rabbi Shofet’s father, Hakham Yedidia Shofet of blessed memory -- the Chief Rabbi of Tehran at the time of the revolution -- joined his son here in Los Angeles and together they continued to build Nessah.
Together with members of the newly established Iranian Jewish community here in Los Angeles, father and son worked diligently to create a more established congregation. The name Nessah Israel was chosen – Nessah meaning “eternal” in Hebrew.
A board of directors and trustees was formed to help further the growth and direction of the still very “young” Nessah Synagogue. From the beginning, education was emphasized – the key to the continuation of Iranian Jewish history and traditions -- and so a supplementary Hebrew school was established. Soon to follow was a nursery school and future plans include a day school.
From a modest start in 1980, sharing space inside Beth Jacob, Nessah went through several location changes until strongly securing her roots in beautiful Beverly Hills. With this final move in 2002, the vision and aspirations for a large religious, educational and cultural center were at last realized! Nessah Educational and Cultural Center offers 3 weekly Torah classes, daily prayer services, thought provoking lectures and programs open to all who wish to attend. In addition, Nessah serves as an anchor in the Iranian Jewish community, offering various services, classes and counseling geared towards family and helping to work through some of life’s stresses.
Nessah Synagogue currently holds 3 separate Shabbat services, one of which is a teen minyan. The service lead by Rabbi David Shofet is held in the Hakham Yedidia Shofet Hall and is in Hebrew and Farsi. The second service, held in Nessah’s beautiful Simcha Hall, is lead by Rabbi Hillel Benchimol and is in Hebrew and English. Rabbi Hillel’s service is geared towards Nessah Israel Young Professionals – NIYP – the group that will continue to water the seeds of growth that father and son, Hakham Yedidia and Rabbi David Shofet, planted.