Westward expansion: Chabad receives donation of 9.6 acres in O’Fallon, Mo.

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A rendering of a proposed Chabad Jewish Community Center-St. Charles County. Image courtesy Baalman Architects

BILL MOTCHAN, Special to the Jewish Light 

A 9.6-acre tract of land in O’Fallon, Mo. will be the future home of the Chabad Jewish Center of St. Charles County. The property was donated by the family of the late Leonard Kaplan. The site is located at East Wabash Street and T.R. Hughes Blvd., close to I-70.

The location is in the heart of the O’Fallon, close to neighborhoods with many young families. It’s also near popular community gathering spots. For example, the Ozzie Smith Sports Complex is just a half mile north.

Chabad is now assessing the best uses for the land, which could include a multi-purpose structure. It plans to announce a capital campaign in 2023 to develop the property to meet the needs of the growing St. Charles Jewish community.

It’s estimated that 5,800 Jews live in St. Charles County, based on a Jewish Federation of St. Louis study. That represents 10% of the Jewish community in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. 

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The new Chabad Jewish Center will mark the first standalone brick and mortar Jewish presence in St. Charles County since the closure of Congregation B’nai Torah in 2014.

The St. Charles Chabad is currently leasing office space on the cobblestone Main Street in the historic district. It also regularly hosts gatherings at the St. Charles home of its co-directors, Rabbi Chaim Landa and his wife Bassy.

“This extraordinary gift is a testament to the promising and very bright future for Jewish life in St. Charles County,” said Rabbi Landa. “Our hearts are filled with so much gratitude, appreciation and thanks.”

The land donation announcement comes just weeks after Leonard Kaplan’s third yahrtzeit. Kaplan was known as “Labe” by family and friends. His widow Norma Kaplan said her late husband believed in helping the community, especially for initiatives that involved children and families.

Leonard’s grandfather founded Kaplan Lumber Company in 1926. He hosted St. Charles’ first synagogue, meeting in a spare room in his home for Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

“The Kaplan family began Jewish life in St. Charles several generations ago. We are beyond thankful that this legacy is continuing, to the great benefit of the thousands of Jews who reside in the county,” said Rabbi Yosef Landa, regional director of Chabad of Greater St. Louis. “I know Labe is looking down upon us and smiling and receiving so much nachas.”