Sometime in 1882 a few members of Sheerith Israel, St. Louis' largest Orthodox congregation, left to form a new congregation which, by 1884 was worshiping under the guidance of Rabbi Arron Levy. In January 1885 Rabbi Levy was succeeded by 26 year old Rabbi Adolph Rosentreter newly arrived from Berlin. The first public notice of the new congregation appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on August 15, 1884 as follows:
A concert for the benefit of the Rev. Aaron Levy, the Jewish rabbi whose congregation seceded recently from Sheerith Israel Church, will be given at Druid's Hall, August 17. The congregation now worships regularly at Pohlman’s Hall Broadway and Franklin Avenue, under the name B’nei Emounoh which means "Sons of Faith".
To put into perspective what the period 1882-1884 was like, consider:
- Less than 20 years had elapsed since the end of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln.
- Chester A. Arthur was the 20th President of the United States.
- There were 38 States.
- St. Louis was the 6th largest city in the United States with a population of about 375,000.
- Queen Victoria was the reigning English monarch.
- The "May Laws" were passed in Russia after the assassination of Alexander II requiring the exclusion of Jews from any rural community of less than 10,000 people thus beginning in earnest the Eastern European immigrations to the United States and Eretz Israel.
- The Moshava, Rishon L'Zion, was founded by a group of ten families marking the beginning of the first Aliyah to Eretz Israel and the financial involvement of Baron Edmond de Rothschild in Zionist activities.
- Thomas Edison designed the first hydro electric plant.
- The American Baseball Association was established.
Since those days B’nai Amoona has evolved from a small Orthodox congregation of primarily German speaking members into one of the most prominent, conservative congregations in the United States.
The world and B’nai Amoona have changed
The Heritage Commission is hard at work trying to collect the memorabilia, documents, photographs and oral histories of our congregation. If you have any memorabilia of B'nai Amoona that you would like to donate or have copied to be included in the Heritage archives, or if you would like to participate in the oral histories, please contact Lester H. Goldman who is chairing the Heritage Commission.