History

Congregation Beth Torah’s History

Congregation Beth Torah was constructed as a family home, a place to play and pray, a place to rejoice and rejuvenate, and a place to love and learn. Here is where we build for the future, a place where children yet to be conceived will romp; where young people will learn together and intertwine their lives; where the old will come for solace and the peace of knowing that we are an eternal people. We welcome you to our home. We extend the warmest of friendships and offer you a place to laugh, grow, and study.

On June 24, 1988, a couple dozen people held Erev Shabbat worship in the living room of Dr. David and Cheryl Harris’s home. Then on July 22, 1988, at the temporary Jewish Community Center, just over one hundred Jews prayed together at the first official worship of Kansas City’s newest synagogue – Congregation Beth Torah.

On September 6, 1988, the new congregation received its one hundredth member family; and the proposed first president Harold Sader, called a congregational meeting to pass bylaws and elect officers. On September 20, 1988, just under three months after our first congregational meeting, 600 Jews from across the KC metropolitan area participated together in our Kol Nidre worship. Carol Sader turned to Rabbi Mark Levin and said, “Poof, instant congregation!”

That summer was the beginning of the birth of Congregation Beth Torah. On November 15-17, 1996, eight exciting years later, Congregation Beth Torah, then with over 450 family members, dedicated our first permanent house of worship, a beautiful synagogue complete with magnificent sanctuary, classrooms, and office space.

Since the beginning, we have been led by outstanding presidents: Hal Sader, Cheryl Harris, Eileen Garry, Larry Bigus, Larry Lerner, Dr. Michael Blum, Barry Katz, Steve Gerson, Phyllis Goldberg, Doug Polsky, Janice Schonwetter, John Spector and currently, Michelle Cole

Now, with over 600 households as members, Beth Torah has grown beautifully! We continue to be a welcoming congregation, with a diverse membership, a strong music program, an innovative education program and an outstanding social justice program which includes:  

• More than 20 years of supplying, preparing and serving weekend meals at reStart Shelter for the month of January
• A quarterly blood drive that literally saves lives
• Joel’s Ride – an annual bike ride raising money to feed the hungry
• Mitzvah Day and many more activities engaging congregants of all ages 

Today, Beth Torah is celebrating 25 years of community. While the hopes expressed during that Erev Shabbat worship in 1988 have been realized, the creative process continues. We are continuously building for the future. We are an eternal people, and Beth Torah is our home.