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Papers of Abraham and Irma Lopes Cardozo

Identifier: ASF AR-8

Scope and Content Note

The majority of the collection consists of brochures and programs from Congregation Shearith Israel and philanthropic organizations, photocopies, newspaper clippings, journals, off-prints, and professional and personal correspondence. There is also an autograph book of Rev. Cardozo’s, songbooks and packets, photographs, newsletters, and religious materials such as prayer sheets and siddur excerpts. Many of the sermons, eulogies and speeches that Rev. Cardozo performed at Shearith Israel and for outside events, as well as articles he submitted to various publications, are represented by numerous drafts, some of which are annotated. Much of the collection is made up of newspaper clippings and photocopies reflecting awards and events honoring the Cardozos as well as specific areas of interest, such as Sephardic music and communities, a number of philanthropic organizations with which the Cardozos were involved, especially in the fields of Jewish education and social welfare agencies, and Jewish and general life in Surinam.


  • Creation: 1910-2008
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1950-1994


Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Dutch, with some Hebrew, Spanish, French, and Turkish.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

American Sephardi Federation, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011


Biographical Note

Abraham Lopes Cardozo

Abraham Lopes Cardozo was born in Amsterdam, Holland on September 27, 1914. As the great-grandson of the Chief Rabbi of the Sephardim in Amsterdam (who had preached the last sermon in Portuguese, and who was later decorated by the King of Holland), and as the son of Joseph Lopes Cardozo, leader of the boy's choir of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, it was fitting that he read his first Haftorah at the age of seven in that same synagogue. He attended Seminary Ets Haim in Amsterdam , and became active in Hagomel, a congregational youth society. In 1939 he was appointed by Queen Wilhemina to be rabbi of the Sephardic congregation in Paramaribo, capital of Surinam. On vacation in New York in 1945 he visited Congregation Shearith Israel in NYC, and he liked it. It was mutual, for he was invited by the Congregation to become the Assistant Hazzan there in 1946, a position he held for forty years. In 1987, he released a book and accompanying cassette tapes entitled Sephardic Songs of Praise. On June 7, 2000, he was knighted by Queen Beatrix of Holland. He died on February 21, 2006 at the age of 91.

Irma Robles Lopes Cardozo

Irma Robles Lopes Cardozo was born in Paramaribo, Surinam on February 25, 1924. Her father, Judah Robles, was president of the Sephardic congregation in Paramaribo. She attended Hendriks School, and then began her long career of philanthropy by working for the Surinam war effort. She joined the Dutch army in 1943, and as Corporal Irma Robles she was sent to Washington, D.C. to work in the Pentagon with the Dutch Marines. When the war ended, she came to New York to work in a branch of a Netherlands Bank. Starting out as a secretary, she worked her way up to become an important player in the organization. After she married, she gave up her salaried position and filled her time working for a wide variety of different philanthropic organizations. Most notable among these was the Women's Division of the Central Sephardic Jewish Community of America, the Jaffa Institute, and the Misgav Ladach Hospital in Jerusalem. Her hard work led to her election as president of the Women's Division and to her receiving the Yedid Nefesh award from the Jaffa Institute in 1997. She also serves as co-president of the Sisterhood of Congregation Shearith Israel.

Robles Lopes Cardozo Family

As a youngster in Surinam, Irma Robles became acquainted with Abraham Lopes Cardozo while he served as the rabbi of her father's congregation. When she came to New York, they met once again and worked on a number of projects together, especially in the area of philanthropy. They were friends for six years before, as Irma Lopes Cardozo recalls, "Then on December 10, 1950 we had our first official date." They became engaged eleven days later, and were married on March 11, 1951. They have two daughters, Deborah, who was born in 1952 and Judith, who was born in 1955. Once married to the Hazzan, Irma Lopes Cardozo gave up her salaried work, but she continued to work diligently for a variety of philanthropic organizations.


7.75 Linear Feet


The Papers of Reverend Abraham Lopes and Mrs. Irma Robles Cardozo contain various materials reflecting the personal and professional lives of Rev. and Mrs. Cardozo, including Rev. Cardozo’s position as Hazzan at Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City and Irma Lopes Cardozo’s numerous philanthropic activities. In addition, there are various materials relating to Sephardic communities throughout the world, honors the Cardozos received, and individuals who had an important influence upon them.


This collection is subdivided into six subgroups, some of which are further subdivided into series and subseries.

  1. Subgroup I: Personal Papers of Abraham and Irma Lopes Cardozo, 1958-1988
  2. Series 1: Cardozo, Abraham Lopes, 1934-2006
  3. Series 2: Family, 1950-2003
  4. Series 3: Robles-Lopes Cardozo Families, 1947-2006
  5. Series 4: Honors and Newsclippings, 1939-2004
  6. Series 5: Correspondence, 1934-2004
  7. Subseries A: Business Papers and Personal Correspondence, 1934-2003
  8. Subseries B: Special Papers and Correspondence, 1950-2003
  9. Subgroup II: Influential Individuals in the lives of Abraham and Irma Lopes Cardozo, 1907-2000
  10. Subgroup III: Congregation Shearith Israel, 1892-2006, (bulk 1930-1981)
  11. Subgroup IV: Organizations, 1974-2008
  12. Series 1: General Organizations, 1974-2008
  13. Series 2: American Friends of Misgav Ladach Hospital in Jerusalem, 1972-2003
  14. Subgroup V: Communities, 1866-2007
  15. Series 1: General Communities, 1866-2007
  16. Series 2: Surinam, 1890-2003
  17. Subgroup VI: Special Topics, 1973-1980


Gift of Abraham and Irma Lopes Cardozo in September 2003, November 2006 and April 2008.

Digitization Note

Box 5 in Series 5: Correspondence of Subgroup I: Personal Papers of Abraham and Irma Lopes Cardozo has been digitized in its entirety, with the exception of Folders 9 and 12.

Related Material

Irma Lopes Cardozo was formerly the President of the Central Sephardi Jewish Community of America, Women's Division (ASF AR-2). Their papers are housed at the American Sephardi Federation Archives.

Separated Material

For materials that were present in duplicates, two copies were left in the collection and additional copies were removed.

Several textiles including women's lace collars and men's hats were moved to the ASF Museum Collection.

Guide to the Abraham and Irma Lopes Cardozo Papers 1910-2008 (Bulk 1950-1994) ASF AR-8
Processed by Randall C. Belinfante. Addendum processed by Rachel S. Harrison as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.
© 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from LopesCardozoFamily_rb03.xml

Revision Statements

  • January 2006:: Entities removed from EAD finding aid.
  • May 2016:: Box numbers updated for boxes 4 and 5 to reflect physical materials by Leanora Lange.
  • July 2016:: Added dao links by Eric Fritzler.
  • October 2018:: Additional physical processing and EAD clean-up by Janine Veazue.

Repository Details

Part of the American Sephardi Federation Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States