High School Explores the History of Kansas City and their Families


Adena Goldberg

Photos by Lauren Hassan 


Students overlook the view of the Missouri River. 


On Jan. 22, the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy high school students traveled around Kansas City to learn the history of the Jewish People and Kansas Citians as a whole. Todd Clauer, upper school principal, along with Molly Fleming-Pierre of Community Creating Opportunities Kansas City (CCO), set up the day for the students.  The tour began at Case Park, learning about the origins of Kansas City and how it developed on the Missouri River. The tour then proceeded through historic Kansas City, while also focussing on Judaic sites. The students visited Beth Shalom’s building on 34th and Paseo, and were shown several spots where other synagogues originated. The original Jewish Community Center and Jewish retirement home were also stops along the way.

Prior to the trip, Clauer collected information of the history of HBHA families from the community. Throughout the tour he pointed out buildings that were former businesses of HBHA families, such as the Bratt’s auto shop and the Goldberg family’s tavern on 18th and Vine, known as Fox’s Tavern. Fleming-Pierre was the CCO representative on the tour with the students and provided the history of Kansas City as well as the impact of Jim Crow laws and segregation on the community.


Sisters senior Natalie Cabell and Sophomore Gabi Cabell bond while visiting the old location of Congregation Beth Shalom. 

Throughout the school year, the Upper School students have been learning about the people and places they live among and the “physical evolution of population growth in Kansas City, and how political, economic and other forces have had dramatic impacts on the lives of Jews in Kansas City,” said Clauer.

    The students began learning about “hot spot” zip codes that, because of their high poverty rate, do not have access to some of the necessities that are taken for granted, like health care. Students were shown facts such as income and mortality rates of these areas.

Rev. Deth Im of CCO, on Nov. 20, came in during mentoring, and prepared a poverty simulation in which students had to pay bills, get loans, and provide for their families. The simulation gave the students an impression of the the struggle and hardships of living in these conditions.

    “The experience was eye opening,” said Junior Moriah Abrams. “It was really cool to see the historically Jewish buildings and to learn about grandparents and great grandparents of other students.”

By going on this trip, Clauer felt that the students would become, “more connected to the Hot Spot zip codes targeted through our work on Health Care Access through our ongoing social justice project,” and he feels that “this is the beginning of our work outside of HBHA to positively impact our local community.” The students will continue this project, and start to truly impact the area.


Students take a break from all of the walking and some smile for a photograph outside of the old Congregation Beth Shalom building.

On Wednesday, Feb. 12, the HBHA High School will take a field trip out to CCO to begin gathering stories of people who need health insurance and help people obtain health insurance. This will be the first of multiple field trips in which the students will turn what they learned into action.