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Our Heritage

On a warm July evening in 1884 the members of Sheerith Israel, the largest Orthodox congregation in St. Louis, met to discuss the reengagement of Rabbi Aaron Levy. A heated dispute arose between those who favored retaining Rabbi Levy and those who did not like his liberal attitude and the way he led the prayers. The vote was against retaining Rabbi Levy. Some of those members in support of Rabbi Levy were so upset that, according to the July 11, 1884, edition of the post-Dispatch:

            Last night thirty members of the Sheereth Israel congregation met at Eight and Franklin Avenue and organized the Bani Amune congregation, adopting the United Hebrew Association constitution. L.M. Plant has been elected president, M. Rosenblum, vice-president, A. Luckler secretary, and L. Stortz, treasurer. Rabbi Levy was elected to take charge of the congregation.

            And so it was that B’nai Amoona came into being.

            Some of the members of the new congregation were from Krakow, Poland which was part of the Austrian Empire and where a prominent Jewish congregation by the name of Bne Emuna (Sons of Faith) was located. They named the new St. Louis congregation after that one but spelled it Benai Amoona. In 1912 the spelling was changed to B’nai Amoona (now understood as Children of Faith).

            By 1884, when B’nai Amoona was founded, the Civil War had ended only nineteen years earlier, a sovereign Jewish State with Jerusalem as its capital was a two-thousand-year-old dream, Queen Victoria was the reigning British monarch, electrification of homes was far in the future, the American “wild west” was just coming to an end and there were 38 States in the Union.  St. Louis was a thriving metropolis that had a prosperous Jewish community of German origin who were members of the Reform Movement. Many of the members of Orthodox B’nai Amoona were German speaking and had much in common with their Reform brethren. By 1920 B’nai Amoona had moved from Orthodox to the relatively new Conservative Movement.

            For a visual history of our congregation go to the Timeline which is a graphic display of the many decades of history of B’nai Amoona in parallel with many of the momentous events of the Jewish and Israel experience, St. Louis and American milestones, cultural /political changes, scientific discoveries, medical advances, and technological breakthroughs.

            The world has changed. B’nai Amoona has changed…as we continue from strength to strength and together, we are strengthened:  Chazak, Chazak, VeNitchazek

Acknowledgements

The timeline text is the work product of Lester H. Goldman, Gary Kodner, Cindy Schuval, and Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham. The timeline graphics are by Gary Kodner.  Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose, Cantor Sharon Nathanson, Jeff Singer, Anita Kraus and Beth Saltzman provided review and advice. Financial support was generously given in memory of Sylvia and Philip Berman.

Thu, February 2 2023 11 Shevat 5783