MaTovu is an inclusive Jewish space in St. Louis City that fosters connection by enriching our community's spiritual, cultural, and social life.
MaTovu — an inclusive Jewish “neighborhood center” — opened in October 2018 as a Jewish space for the first time in 75 years. From 1929 to 1944, the South Side Hebrew Congregation met at this location at 4200 Blaine Avenue in the City’s Botanical Heights neighborhood. While few records remain of the congregation, its distinctly Jewish character has been maintained in the windows and façade. MaTovu is established and run by a volunteer board of entrepreneurs to build inclusive connections that enrich the community’s spiritual, cultural, and social life. MaTovu joins existing synagogues and other Jewish organizations in developing the City's visible Jewish infrastructure while establishing itself as a neighborhood center open to everyone, and welcoming the challenge of how to be a space accessible to many communities.
The name, MaTovu, comes from the only prayer in Jewish liturgy crafted by a non-Jew. The story goes that a wicked prophet named Balaam was supposed to curse the Jews in the desert, but — overcome with awe at the sight of folks gathered together — felt compelled to bless them instead.
The MaTovu team sees a lot of truth in this 500-year-old teaching. The Jewish people have their own unique historical vantage point of the world that includes layered celebration, trauma, and dispossession of space. This is of course compounded by all of our layered identities, and the intersections of communities our identities cross into. It is from this place that MaTovu evolved. MaTovu seeks to create a center out of a historically-rich, rebuilt Jewish building that provides innovative opportunities for social change grounded in the work of being a neighbor and building relationships with the broader community.
The team established itself to consider the idea of opening a space when a palpable need arose to have difficult conversations within the framework of the Jewish/ spiritual identities and progressive communities - and more importantly, a deeper need was seen to do more than talk.
MaTovu is divided into a large gathering space, a conference room, and a small office/library totalling around 2,600 square feet. The gathering space can accommodate up to 100 people, and the conference room and office can be used for smaller meetings by Jewish organizations or other small groups in the community. This project is a unique opportunity for the Jewish community to share its resources with Jews who do not live in the County and to be in close relationship with our neighbors who aren’t Jewish. MaTovu will also offer a home for innovative new ideas from existing Jewish institutions, young Jews, and the community at large.
About the Space
Maya Felman, Program and Engagement Fellow
MaTovu is seeking candidates for a Program and Engagement Manager. Please click here to learn more.