Archive for Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Man says old temple in Leavenworth oldest in state

November 16, 2011


— An expert on Jewish history says a former temple in Leavenworth is the oldest Jewish place of worship in Kansas.

Jerry Klinger is president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation. He recently told the Leavenworth County Historical Society that the Temple B'Nai Jeshurun in downtown Leavenworth was a significant structure in Jewish history in the Midwest.

Klinger wants the Historical Society to erect an interpretive marker at the Leavenworth site. He says he would provide the marker at no cost to the public.

The Leavenworth Times reports that the B'Nai Jeshurun Congregation was established in 1859 and built the temple in 1866. It was a temple until the 1970s, when the congregation apparently dissolved.

The building has been an apartment complex since the 1970s.


Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 6 months ago

Where are the photographs of this temple????

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 6 months ago

To get really nit picky about it, it could have been a temple only if the congregation followed the Reform movement, which is the only Jewish denomination that calls its place of worship a temple.

All other denominations, such as Conservative, Reconstructionist, Orthodox, and Ultra-Orthodox, call their place of worship a synagogue. Often worship services are held at what is called a Community Center, but a Community Center is never called a synagogue.

It is possible that a Reform Jewish congregation used the building, since the Reform movement dates from about 1850, or perhaps a bit before. Sources seem to differ on exactly when the Reform movement started. But since the B'Nai Jeshurun Congregation was established in 1859, that is cutting it really close. The congregation would have had to be at the cutting edge of the Reform movement in Germany, and then built the building in Kansas only 9, or only a few, years later.

But, that very fine point of distinction between a temple and a synagogue is of absolutely no importance to anyone that is not Jewish.

clipped from:

"Why are some Jewish places of worship called synagogues and others temples?

Synagogue is Greek for the Hebrew Bet HaKnesset, house of gathering, as the synagogue has always been the place of assembly for prayer and study.

When the Jewish reform movement was started in Germany early last century, its pioneers chose to call their prayer houses temples, because they did not believe in the prophecy that a third Temple would some day be built in Jerusalem, claiming instead that each prayer house, wherever it was, was a miniature temple."

Jennifer Dropkin 6 years, 6 months ago

I attended B'Nai Jeshurun as a child, and the congregation was Reform. The Jewish population of Leavenworth used to be large enough to support a synagogue, but by the 1970s, the congregation was small and composed of Jewish families from the city and Fort Leavenworth. The temple was in need of repair, and the congregation couldn't support it. I think the building was desanctified. After it was sold it was renovated and became "The Temple Apartments."

chalice2 6 years, 6 months ago

I grew up in Leavenworth and knew Rabbi Rosen, the rabbi at the Temple. He was a friend of my father, a very lapsed Catholic M.D. I remember Rabbi and my father laughing and debating to all hours. The Temple building is really very pretty. I think it was sandstone with Doric columns, but my memory is very vague. It is a shame there was no photograph.

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