In 1864, some disaffected members of San Francisco's Congregation Emanu-El broke away and established Congregation Ohabai Shalome, when they objected to the modification of the ritual in the older synagogue. Its founding officers included Joseph Mayer; Baruch Hamburger; Moses Waterman; Sol Wangenheim; Leopold Kahn; Henry Greenberg; S. Wand; J. Baum; and S. Wolf. Its first building was at the corner of Post and Geary, but then, in 1895, it moved to a new building, designed by the architect Moses J. Lyon, at 1881 Bush Street. With time, this building, noted for its Venetian and Moorish motifs, became popularly known as the Bush Street Synagogue. In Nov. 1934, the congregation sold this building to the Zen Center of San Francisco. It then met for a time in other locations in the city, but, in 1940, when its rabbi Michael Fried died, the congregation disbanded. During World War II, the owners and Japanese-American congregants of the Zen Center were interned in concentration camps, as part of the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans. During this time, while its Japanese-American owners continued to make mortgage payments on the building, 1881 Bush St. became the home of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, a church whose congregants were primarily African-Americans from the American South. After the war, the Zen Center took back ownership of the building. After 1969, the Zen Center left 1881 Bush St. and the building languished for a while until it came under the ownership of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. In the late 1980s, there were unsuccessful attempts to turn the building into a Jewish Cultural Center. Finally, in 1996, the ownership of the building was transferred to the Japanese American Religious Federation and it ultimately was given to the Kokoro Senior Assisted Living Center, a home for senior citizens, most of whom are from the Japanese-American community.
The collection contains materials from and about Congregation Ohabai Shalome collected over the years by the Magnes staff. Included are a congregational minute book (November 6, 1864 to October 3, 1870); a copy of the Constitution and By Laws of the congregation (1871); a membership application card (c. 1880); a program for the 1895 dedication of the congregation's new building on Bush Street; a copy of "Young Israel's Guide" (1905) by Rabbi Bernard M. Kaplan; a Memorial Service for the Dead (1897), written by the congregation's rabbi, Isidore Myers. The collection also contains photographs of the interior and exterior of the Bush Street building and newspaper clippings about the congregation. In addition, the collection has a 1975 report of the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board to San Francisco's Redevelopment Agency, which includes a history of the congregation and an architectural history of the Bush Street building.