Originally from North Carolina, Rabbi Samuel Mayerberg arrived in Kansas City in 1928 to lead B’nai Jehudah, the area’s oldest Jewish congregation. The 36-year-old Rabbi immediately became a vocal leader in the community. During his 32 year tenure, his social justice efforts shaped the B’nai Jehudah congregation into a proactive force for civic progress. These Torah cufflinks open up to reveal the tablets of the Ten Commandments–a reflection of Rabbi Mayerberg’s faith and commitment to virtuous leadership.
Congregation B’nai Jehudah’s connection to Jewish immigration dates back to the late 19th century. Following its founding in 1870 by a group of Jewish settlers with German roots, B’nai Jehudah grew into a thriving congregation that served families from Kansas City and abroad. In the 1880s, pogroms and violence forced Jewish families in Eastern Europe to flee to the United States. Despite cultural and religious differences, the congregation helped newcomers find work and housing over the next two decades. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, Rabbi Mayerberg and the congregation helped survivors and religious refugees navigate an unfamiliar city. Today B’nai Jehudah, now located in Overland Park, Kansas, continues to serve the Kansas City Metro’s growing Jewish population as the largest Reform congregation in the area. Its long history of supporting Jewish newcomers sheds light on a small part of Jewish immigration to Missouri’s cities.