Sharei Chesed: A modern congregation with a rich history
The current Sharei Chesed Congregation, through the establishment of its two predecessor synagogues, Sharei Tzedek and Gemelus Chesed, traces its roots back to 1904. The organization that year of Sharei Tzedek, located at 8th and Bryant, was the culmination of a dream and need shared by many Eastern European Orthodox Jews who fled their homelands and immigrated to Minnesota in the early 1900s. They found their way to North Minneapolis and weaved their way into the social and business fabric of the community.
Gemelus Chesed, formally registered in 1914—but founded earlier—was one of a number of combination-type fraternal societies which loaned money, administered relief and provided religious services for the growing influx of immigrants. It was located originally on Eighth and Girard, then moved to Logan Avenue before building a new building in St. Louis Park.
The congregations’ early members were the forbearers of many current, prominent Twin Cities’ families. In 1969, the two congregations merged to form Sharei Chesed.
Early spiritual leadership of the congregation rested in the devoted and capable hands of two legendary figures of the Orthodox Jewish community. Rabbi S.I. Levin served the Congregations Sharei Tzedek and Sharei Chesed for more than 63 years. He was the highly respected dean of Minneapolis Orthodox rabbis until his death in 1984. A prolific writer in scholarly Hebrew journals, he was one of the founders of the Minneapolis Federation and the Jewish Family and Children’s Service.
For 54 years, Rabbi George S. Sektor guided Gemelus Chesed and the merged Sharei Chesed congregation until his death in 1988. He was a great Talmudic scholar, a trained mohel and a shochet. In 1965, under his zestful leadership, the congregation built and dedicated the facility at 2734 Rhode Island Avenue — the first Orthodox synagogue in St. Louis Park. He is remembered warmly for his fulfillment of the meaning of “Gemilut Hesed” through his contributions to many Jewish institutions of learning and various Jewish homes for orphans.
For over 20 years now, Sharei Chesed has been a modern synagogue where families sit together and listen to both men and women lead services in both Hebrew and English. We are also blessed to be in our home in Minnetonka on the shores of beautiful Crane Lake, led by the wise counsel and dynamic leadership of our spiritual leader, Rabbi Daniel Ettedgui.