Beth Hamidrash owes its existence to a small group of dedicated Vancouver Sephardim who came together in the late sixties with the common goal of founding a Sephardic prayer service. In the beginning, they prayed at each other’s homes, in the local Jewish elementary school gym, and in the Jewish Community Centre, driving a borrowed Sefer Torah back and forth from Seattle for the high holidays. The movement grew and in 1973 they registered as a BC Society under the name of Sephardic Congregation. Its mission was to establish a synagogue to conduct Sephardic services and to foster Sephardic education. But they still lacked a home.
An Ashkenazi synagogue, Beth Hamidrosh Bnai Jacob, at our current location on Heather Street, had been inviting the group to pray with them to shore up their dwindling weekday minyan. The two congregations soon decided to merge and finally, on March 31, 1977, the now Sephardic Congregation Beth Hamidrash was born.
As membership expanded, the building has grown with us, culminating in the 2004 opening of our beautiful multi-story, light-filled synagogue. For decades we have been flourishing as a full-service Sephardic synagogue, realizing the dreams of our founders more than fifty years ago.
Founders: Edward and Eliza Shawn (z”l), David and Marcelle David (z”l), Nazem Aboody (z”l), Dr. Abraham Benjamin, Sholom Ezran, Raphael Acrech (z”l), Moses Jacob (z”l), George Moses (z”l), Dr. Joseph Bensimon, and others.
Early pioneers: Albert Melul, Meyer Mattuck, Victor Setton, Sidney Benjamin, Stan Shawn, Marc Stern, Chackel Kaufman (z”l), Micha Peled, David Maurice David (z”l), David Asmoucha (z”l), Dr. Michael Isaacson, David Ezekiel, Moshe Nahoum, Sasson Levi, George Ostry, Henry Alko, Charles Bigio, Josef Mouyal, Gary Dayan, Avi Houta, Meir Cohen (z”l), Charlotte Cohen (z”l), Alan Tapper, Josef Shemesh, Maurice Benyaer (z”l), Isaac Rimock, Michel Tapiero, Gamliel Aharon, Manni Malka, and others.
Rabbi Shlomo Gabay was born and raised in London, UK. Following high school, he studied for several years in Yeshivot in Gateshead, UK and Jerusalem, Israel.
After getting married in London, he subsequently moved to Israel to study for Semicha (rabbinic ordination) under the tutelage of former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu z” l and was awarded his Semicha in 2013 by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Simultaneous with his Semicha ordination, Rabbi Gabay graduated from the Ner Le’elef International Institute in Jerusalem, a three-year post-rabbinic training programme for global outreach-educators.
Rabbi Gabay served as a teacher and educator and a member of the prestigious Kollel in the vibrant Jewish community of Gibraltar. In the spring of 2018, together with his wife and three daughters, Rabbi Gabay moved to Vancouver to take up the position of the spiritual leader at Congregation Beth Hamidrash, the only Sephardic congregation west of Toronto. In 2019 he was inducted into office by Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.
Rabbi Gabay is also a member of the Beth Din of the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of Vancouver.
Board of Directors
President – Tsur Somerville
Vice President – Yossi Sedaghatti
Treasurer – Sarah Fernandes
Secretary – Margot Tache
Gavi Beigel, Michael Giffen, Stan Radomsky, Roger Rivera, Miriam Sklar
Head of Religious Committee
Head of Sisterhood Committee
Our synagogue, including the sanctuary, social hall, and kitchen, is available for rental for milestone celebrations, including your wedding, bar/bat mitzah, brit milah, or baby naming.
The sanctuary seats approximately 120 on the main floor, and 90 in the women’s balcony section.
Synagogue members – $350
Jewish organizations – $400
Non-members – $450
Synagogue members – $350/day
Jewish organizations – $400/day
Non-members – $450/day
For rental of both the sanctuary and social hall
Synagogue members – $450/day
Jewish organizations – $500/day
Non-members – $550/day
Rates include same-day use of the kitchen. Additional days of kitchen use will be subject to the kitchen rental rates. Wedding chuppah/canopy available on request.
Synagogue members – $100/day
Jewish organizations – $150/day
Non-members – $200/day
Dairy may be accommodated in the social hall without kitchen access. Renters must provide their table covers and table settings (disposable).
The kitchen is strictly kosher, meat or parve only. It includes a commercial gas range/six-burner cooktop, a separate gas convection oven, and commercial dishwashers.
Advance booking, with the rental contract, rental deposit, and damage deposit, is required. An approved list of kosher caterers is available on request. The Rabbi must approve any caterer, not on the list. The renter is responsible for obtaining a mashgiach, approved by the Rabbi, to be present for all kitchen use. For commercial use: please contact the office.