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Jews have been living in St. Louis since 1807. The first recorded prayer session with at least ten people (a minyan) was 12 September 1836. By 1840, there were about fifty Jews in St. Louis and they purchased land outside the city limits to establish the first Jewish cemetery. Today that area is the midtown of St. Louis and the cemetery has long been relocated.
On 3 October 1841, United Hebrew, the first Jewish congregation, was formed. By 1847, Emanu El Congregation, consisting mostly of German Jews, was formed and in 1848, they established a second Jewish cemetery. By 1854, there were enough Jews in St. Louis to warrant a rabbi, and by 1855 the first synagogue was constructed. By then, Emanu El and a group called B’nai B’rith had combined, and the new congregation, called B’nai El, built their structure on Sixth Street between Gratiot and Cerre Streets.
By 1900, there were about 40,000 Jews living in St. Louis. There were four Jewish cemeteries, four Jewish newspapers, two funeral chapels, a Hebrew Free School, and many Jewish charitable organizations.
Today’s Jewish population in the St. Louis area exceeds 60,000. It supports numerous Jewish congregations and cemeteries as well as a Holocaust museum, theater, charities, schools, and a nationally-known hospital.
The St. Louis Genealogical Society sponsors the St. Louis Genealogical Society - Jewish SIG which provides a resource for more information on Jewish history and resources in St. Louis.
Bronson, Rosalind Mael. B’Nai Amoona For All Generations. St. Louis: Congregation of B’Nai Amoona, 1982.
Ehrlich, Walter. Zion in the Valley, The Jewish Community of St. Louis, Volume 1, 1807–1907. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1997.
Ehrlich, Walter. Zion in the Valley, The Jewish Community of St. Louis, Volume 2, The Twentieth Century. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2002.
Marriage Records of Rabbi Adolph Rosentreter, 1886–1911; St. Louis: Eisenkramer, 1987.
Rosenkranz, Samuel, editor. A Centennial History of Congregation Temple Israel, 1886–1986, 5647–5747. Creve Coeur, Missouri: Congregation Temple Israel, 1986.
St. Louis Genealogical Society · #4 Sunnen Drive, Suite 140 · St. Louis, MO 63143 · 314-647-8547