6.12 Kansas City, Missouri
Congregation B’nai Jehudah, SE corner of Linwood Boulevard and Flora Avenue
Howe, Hoit and Cutler, architects, 1908

Commercialchrome, publisher; no date

This view portrays B’nai Jehudah’s (Sons of Judah) third temple, completed in 1908. It is one of the finest classical-style synagogues built in the early 20th century and was occupied by the congregation for nearly 50 years, from 1908 to 1957. Cut stone lettering above the six Ionic columns reads, “My House Shall Be a House of Prayer for All Peoples.”

The congregation’s first building, erected in 1875, was in use for ten years on a site subsequently developed for commercial use. A larger Moorish-style temple was built in 1885 on Oak Street, and subsequently expanded in 1890 with side galleries to accommodate more people, while the basement was used for classroom space.

B’nai Jehudah/Oak Street Temple, Kansas City, Missouri, dedicated in 1885. Illustration from Frank J. Adler, Roots in a Moving Stream: The Centennial History of Congregation B’nai Jehudah of Kansas City 1870–1970 (Kansas City, Mo.: The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah, 1972), 65.

The Linwood Boulevard temple was served by two senior rabbis, Harry H. Mayer (1908–28) and Samuel S. Mayerberg (1928–57). The latter, who died in 1964, is remembered as one of the instigators of the fight against political machine rule in Kansas City. Harassed and threatened, he emerged victorious in the civic cleanup campaign he helped start in 1932.

The Linwood temple had 20 stained glass windows designed by John La Farge, one of the most renowned glass artists of the 19th century. Rabbi Harry H. Mayer chose the symbols and the accompanying Hebrew and English inscriptions, meant to represent ten periods in Jewish history. The windows were removed in 1957 and put in storage, with just two on display at the new temple at 69th Street and Holmes Road. That remarkable modern sanctuary, designed by Kivett and Myers, was subsequently demolished in 2003, and the congregation moved even further from the city.

Scottish Rite Masons purchased the building after the new temple on Holmes was erected and it became a masonic hall. By 2021, it was part of the Robert J. Mohart Multipurpose FOCUS Center, a Shared Space for the Kansas City nonprofit community.

For additional image see https://pendergastkc.org/collection/9130/20003556/bnai-jehudah-temple.