Gomel Chesed Synagogue (1893-1925)
Congregation Gomel Chesed was dedicated in 1893 at its original home in the West Bottoms. They moved to this site when their old synagogue was destroyed in the 1903 flood. After this, a group of families split off, calling their new congregation Shearis Israel. In 1922, the two congregations reunited to form Congregation Ohev Shalom. They left this location after the merger, moving to 7th and Sandusky.
A drawing of Gomel Chesed's building on Central Avenue.
Backstory and Context
Around the turn of the century, many immigrants, including Jews, lived in the West Bottoms and the surrounding areas. Eventually, they formed a congregation, calling it Gomel Chesed, roughly meaning "he who bestows loving-kindness." This was the first synagogue in Wyandotte County. Like other area synagogues, it originally ran out of rented space. The room they rented, apparently located at "1606 1/2 W Ninth in Kansas City, Missouri," would have been a neighbor to the historic Abernathy Furniture Company. However, they only operated there for a short time before moving to their building, a modest one just a block away at 925 State Line Road. The dedication occurred in early September 1893, just before Rosh Hashanah, and was led by the congregation's Rabbi Gershonowitz.
Like most area businesses, Congregation Gomel Chesed suffered from the devastating 1903 floods. It is unknown if the building was truly damaged beyond repair or if the congregation just could not afford to fix it. Regardless, many members of the synagogue left the West Bottoms for less flood-prone parts of town. Most relocated to the other side of State Line, which was on higher ground. The synagogue followed, and the new building, the first synagogue in Kansas City, Kansas, opened at this location in 1904.
At the same time Gomel Chesed moved to their new building, several families split off, forming a new congregation. The new synagogue was called Shearith Israel. It was located in a rented room about a mile away.
In 1920, Gomel Chesed and Shearith Israel began to talk of reuniting. The two congregations merged in the following years, and the new synagogue was called Ohev Sholom, meaning "lovers of peace." The new congregation ran at this location until the 1960s when it relocated to Prairie Village in Johnson County, following Jewish migration to the area.
Moore, Dennis. TRIBUTE TO CONGREGATION OHEV SHOLOM, Government Publishing Office. September 20th, 2007. Accessed October 29th, 2022. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CRECB-2007-pt18/html/CRECB-2007-pt18-Pg25137-2.htm
Bayer, Barbara. Wyandotte County Museum to host exhibit, Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, April 8th, 2011. Accessed October 29th, 2022. https://www.kcjc.com/current-news?id=1819:hbhas-program-book...to...&start=2330.
Morgan, Perl W. History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its People. Chicago. The Lewis Publishing Company, 1911.
Laying the Foundation, October 12th, 2011. Accessed October 29th, 2022. http://www.bialystoker.org/Hamodia_Shul_Supplement.pdf.
"Jewish Synagogue to be Dedicated.." Kansas City Star (Kansas City) December 10th, 1904. .1.
Cohen, Barton. First Synagogue in Wyandotte County. The Historical Journal of Wyandotte County. January 1st, 2005. 277 - 278. Obtained through Missouri Valley Special Collections.
Ohev Sholom 100th Anniversary Commemorative Booklet. Accessed through State Historical Society of Missouri - Kansas City.
Ohev Sholom 100th Anniversary Commemorative Booklet - State Historical Society of Missouri, K0682.