4341 W. Golf Road
Skokie, IL 60076
(830 plaques in database)
Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Kesser Maariv Anshe Luknik is one of the oldest orthodox congregations in the Midwest. The congregation's first minyan took place under the name B'nai Jacob Congregation in 1865. In 1867, Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol merged with B'nai Jacob and became Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Ub'nai Jacob. It's first burial grounds were located in Oakwoods Cemetery. The synagogue's charter at Oakwoods pre-dates the Charter of the City of Chicago. The congregation's first building was located at 134 Pacific Avenue, south of Van Buren Street. It purchased a temple from B'nai Sholom at Michigan and 14th in 1886. After meeting at that location for several years, it moved back to 134 Pacific Avenue until 1902. In 1902, the synagogue split into 2 separate congregations. The one on the South Side was called Beth Hamedrosh "Anshe Doron", meaning "people of the south"; the South Side congregation built a temple at Wabash and 35th. The West Side congregation did not have a permanent location for the period 1902-1915; during that time it met at a number of locations near the 800 block of Maxwell. The congregation finally established a temple at Douglas and St. Louis in 1915. Before it had a permanent home, the West Side congregation was known as Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol "Anshe Maariv" to "denote people of the west". Independent of the development and growth of Beth Hanedrosh Hagodol Ub'nai Jacob, a Lukniker Shul (named after the city of Luknik in Poland) called Tifereth Yisroel Anshe Luknik was established on the West Side and Congregation Kesser Maariv was formed (in East Rogers Park) in 1924. Both of these congregations were to play a role in the move of Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Ub'nai Jacob to Chicago's North Side. During the 1940s, prior to the disintegration of the old West Side Jewish community, the Lukniker Shul and Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Ub'nai Jacob merged, incorporating the names of both former congregations. The resulting congregation was named Beth Hamedrosh Hagadol Ub'nai Jacob Anshe Luknik. In 1944, Congregation Kesser Maariv held a mortgage burning dinner on February 13, when it successfully retired the debt on a wood frame house it had acquired at 6418 N. Greenview Avenue, near Devon. At that dinner, the congregation announced plans for a capital campaign to construct a new synagogue building. At the same time that Kesser Maariv was looking for needed funds, Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Anshe Luknik was looking for a new home - they had been located at Douglas and St. Louis. A merger of the congregations took place in the mid-1950s. By 1984, the congregation's membership had started to decline as the Jewish population center shifted to West Rogers Park and Skokie. The congregation sold the synagogue and school building in December 1990, and a new, permanent home was identified and acquired in December, 1994 at 4341 W. Golf Road, Skokie, Illinois. Today it is simply called Kesser Maariv.
The plaques are available to view on Jewishgen.org and can be searched by clicking JewishGen Memorial Plaques Database. They were photographed by Alvin Holtzman in November 2017. Some of the plaques which were photographed were formerly located at Mikdosh El Hagro Hebrew Center in Evanston.
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