One of the central states of the United States; admitted to the Union in 1821. While yet a territory it was inhabited by Jewish settlers, the earliest of whom were the Bloch family. The Jewish communities of the state are as follows:St. Louis:
Jews began to settle here shortly after 1830. At the present time there are six permanent and several temporary places of worship. The Reform congregations are: Shaare Emeth, Temple Israel, B'nai El, and United Hebrew. These four congregations aggregate about 800 families. Of the Orthodox bodies there are: B'nai Emunah, Tifereth Israel, and the Beth Hamidrash Hagadol.
All the Orthodox organizations have their places of worship on the north side of the city. Tifereth Israel was founded in 1899; its present membership is 160, and it has a Talmud Torah where 200 children receive daily instruction in Hebrew after public-school hours. The Rev. S. Rosenberg is rabbi.
The oldest of the Reform congregations are the B'nai El and the United Hebrew. The latter was established in 1838. It held its first services in a private residence, and its first synagogue was built in 1858. Dr. Illoway was then rabbi. In 1881 a new synagogue was erected at Twenty-first and Olive streets. The membership is 146. Dr. H. J. Messing has been rabbi since 1878. The Sabbath-school has 80 pupils. The congregation has a United Hebrew ladies' aid society, consisting of 80 members; and a young people's literary circle.Congregations.
The B'nai El congregation was founded in 1852 by a consolidation of two previously existing religious organizations. Its synagogue, built in 1883, is at Chouteau avenue and Eleventh street; present membership, 150. The Sabbath-school numbers about 100 pupils. The Jastrow prayer-book is used. The rabbi (since 1877) is Dr. Spitz; he is also publisher and editor of "The Jewish Voice," established in 1888. The congregation has a ladies' aid society of about 100 members, and a young people's society of about the same number.
Congregation Shaare Emeth was organized in 1866 with 83 members. It worshiped first at the Harmonia Club on Market street. Its present synagogue, on the corner of Lindell boulevard and Vandeventer avenue, was erected in 1897; present membership, 289. The Sabbath-school has an attendance of 246 pupils. Dr. Samuel Sale has been rabbi since 1887. Associated with the congregation is a ladies' auxiliary society.
Temple Israel congregation was organized in 1886. Its synagogue is on the corner of Pine and Twenty-eighth streets; present membership, 250. It has Saturday and Sunday services. Dr. Leon Harrison, rabbi since 1891, conducts services also in the United Charities building on Friday nights for residents of the Russo-Jewish quarter. This voluntary office was established by the Social Settlement League. Besides the regular religious instruction of the young, Temple Israel has a confirmation and postgraduate class, a Bible class for women, and an alumni association.
The following are the chief Jewish philanthropic societies and institutions in St. Louis: The oldest Jewish benevolent society of the city, probably the oldest in the West, is the Hebrew Benevolent Society, instituted in 1842. It was legally incorporated in 1847; present membership, 66. It has the character of a mutual benefit society. There is also a fraternal benefit association under the name of "Progressive Order of the West" (founded 1896), with sixteen lodges, thirteen of which are in the city; the total membership is 1,008 males and 848 females.Educational and Charitable Institutions.
The first systematic relief of the Jewish poor was begun in 1871. The influx of needy Jews after Chicago's great conflagration made a union of charitable activities necessary. Later on the large immigration of Russo-Jewish refugees made such union still more needful. The United Hebrew Relief Society then became the leading charitable organization of the Jewish community. The late Rev. Isaac Epstein was president for many years, and Dr. Messing vice-president from 1878. There were, besides, three other benevolent societies. All of them were in 1897 merged into one common association under the name of "United Jewish Charities"; each retained, however, its own distinct existence as to officers and the particular scope of charitable work for which it had been founded; all relief is dispensed at the main office of the United Charities. This institution has its own building (erected 1901) on the corner of Ninth and Carr streets. Since its erection all the Jewish charitable and educational societies of the city have joined the union; of these are to be mentioned: the Home for Aged and Infirm Israelites; the Jewish Hospital; and the Hebrew Free and Industrial School, founded in 1879 by Dr. Messing. In this school over 400 children receive religious instruction twice a week, and of this number 200 girls are taught domestic arts and industrial branches three times a week. The industrial department has recently been put under the management of the Sisterhood of Personal Service. The pupils in the Jewish Alliance night-school (present enrolment 460) receive instruction four times a week in the elementary English branches, and free reading-rooms and a library are open to them. The Alliance and the Free-School societies have recently been consolidated.
The Jewish Hospital was founded in 1900 and dedicated in 1902; it occupies a lot of 200 feet fronting Delmar boulevard; free treatment is given to all poor applicants. It has also a training-school for nurses. The Home for Aged and Infirm Israelites was established in 1880; it is located on Jefferson avenue.
The Jews of St. Louis number about 40,000 in a total population of 575,238.Kansas City:
The Reform congregation B'nai Jehudah, organized in 1870, was incorporated in 1872, with 36 members. The present rabbi is Dr. Harry H. Mayer; membership, 190. The Sabbath-school has 165 pupils and 8 assistant teachers. Free religious instruction is given to the children of nonmembers, mainly of poor parents, on Saturday afternoons. There are the usual two Sabbath services only. The synagogue is on the corner of Eleventh and Oak streets. There are about six congregations of the Orthodox persuasion, two of which have their own synagogues: the Keneseth Israel with 110, and the Gomel Chesed with 90, members. The other Orthodox societies worship in rented halls. The various benevolent organizations of the Jewish community were within the last two years confederated as the United Jewish Charities, with a board of directors. The charitable, educational, and industrial work of its several departments is carried on in a rented building on East Fifteenth street.
The Jewish residents of the city number about 8,000 in a total population of 163,752.St. Joseph:
The Jewish settlement at St. Joseph dates from about 1850. The congregation was established in 1859 with 7 members; in 1861 the membership was 20, when an old church building was bought and transformed into a synagogue. This was burned a year later. A new site, on the corner of Sixth and Jule streets, was purchased, on which the present synagogue was erected in 1866. The present rabbi, Dr. Isaac Schwab, has held the office since 1879. The congregation has a membership of 59. The Ladies' Benevolent Society, with a present membership of 60, is an important charitable factor in the Jewish community. There is also an Orthodox congregation composed of Jews from eastern Europe. By their exemplary thrift these later comers have risen from lowly beginnings to fair competencies, and in 1900 succeeded in building a synagogue of their own. There is a Hebrew school where daily instruction is given, and a ladies' benevolent society is connected with the congregation. The minister is S. Kanter. There are 75 members, and about as many more families not affiliated with the congregation, making a total of about 800 persons in the Orthodox section of the community. The whole Jewish population of the city may fairly be figured at 1,200 in a total population of 102,979.
Other Towns: There are a number of other towns of the state with Jewish populations averaging from 12 to 25. In others, again, the number is larger, as may be seen from the accompanying list: Columbia, 9 families; total number of individuals, 31. Chillicothe, 14 families, aggregating 50 individuals; there is a benevolent society. Hannibal, 12 families. Joplin, 38 families, representing a total of about 150 persons; a ladies' aid society. Jefferson City, 8 families, a total of 34 souls; there is a synagogue. Moberly, 16 persons. Sedalia, 16 families, aggregating 60 persons; a benevolent society. Springfield, 25 families, with about 100 individuals; a congregation and place of worship, with Friday evening services; a ladies' benevolent society.