Kol Rinah starts $7 million building revamp in Clayton

Above, Rabbi Noah Arnow leads members of Kol Rinah in blessings at the groundbreaking Sunday, Aug. 19 for renovations at its new synagogue in Clayton. Photo: Eric Berger

By Eric Berger, Staff Writer

More than 125 people gathered Sunday, Aug. 19 at Kol Rinah’s future home in Clayton for a groundbreaking ceremony. The Conservative synagogue plans to spend about $7 million on the renovation of the former Journey Christian Church at 7701 Maryland Ave.

In addition to the congregation’s lay leaders and clergy, Clayton Mayor Harold Sanger and Andrew Rehfeld, president and CEO of Jewish Federation of St. Louis, also attended and spoke. 

“We are in the heart of Clayton, which is the heart of our county, and the population of Clayton keeps growing with homes and apartments,” said Sidney Guller, a Kol Rinah member and donor. “Many of our elderly and young people are moving into this area, so it’s important that we have a facility which will on all bases be able to help them.”

Rehfeld, a member of Kol Rinah, also noted the geographical significance of the synagogue’s move from its current home at 829 N. Hanley Road in University City.

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“It marks in a very tangible form a return east that we are seeing in our population,” he said. “The importance of infrastructure is sometimes hard to praise but should never be forgotten. The infrastructure of our communal organizations help us honor and respect the past, provide continuity to the present and elevate the purposes that we gather in them.”

Kol Rinah was formed in 2013 when Conservative congregations Shaare Zedek and Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel merged. In March 2017, Kol Rinah’s board approved the plan to swap buildings with the church in Clayton. 

The synagogue hopes to complete construction by summer 2019.