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Rockdale Temple is the oldest congregation west of the Allegheny Mountains, but we are always looking for new ways to better serve our members and our community. shabbatCTY is Rockdale’s most recent foray into innovative programming, as we hosted a special Shabbat service overlooking beautiful Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine in April 2018.

The idea for a Shabbat service in the city originally came from Philip T. Cohen, a past president of Rockdale Temple, who expressed his desire to see more young people taking advantage of all that Rockdale has to offer. Joe Hirschhorn, who served as part of the team that helped make Phil’s idea a reality, says that shabbatCTY was designed with the hope to not just attract young people, but to “draw an entirely different crowd—or at least some different people who don’t make it out to Ridge Road for Shabbat.”

“I love OTR, and I thought it would be a great place to spend time with friends,” says Caroline Winstel-McLeod, a new member of Rockdale. The bright and attractive new venue added to the excitement of the service, but it was the spirit and the community that set the program apart. shabbatCTY is about the experience—loosely structured, it’s partially social, partially religious, and almost entirely musical. “The atmosphere was so cool. All of the young professionals from RUACH were in a row together, and we were all singing really loud. There was just a youthful energy, and everyone was ridiculously welcoming.” The service didn’t have a formal sermon—that time was used for people to meet one another and study Torah.

The Rockdale leadership heading shabbatCTY are working to grow the program to new locations throughout our urban core and to attract even more newcomers, and the spirit of the event will only continue to grow along with it. Even in its early days, shabbatCTY has come to reflect the truths and values of the dedicated people who helped bring it to life—it’s community, it’s accepting, it’s spiritual, and it meets you where you are.

Mon, December 11 2023 28 Kislev 5784