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Lauren & Jake Lillenstein

I am the fifth generation of my family to be part of our sacred community at Rockdale Temple. I can vividly see myself in the old building: I can picture the shelves of the old library, the staircase just inside the building that my friends and I would run up and down, I can see the old choir room and remember when I discovered the secret steps that led to the sanctuary. I can imagine my sister and me sitting in my mother’s first grade religious school classroom, eating bagels while Mom prepared to teach. I remember playing in the courtyard while my Aunt Ruth set up for the Nursery School program she directed in the lower level. I can picture the kitchen and the art room, all seeming so large at the time. I remember the many trips to the bathroom during High Holy Day Services, and the “big room” where we participated in Purim Carnivals and B’nei Mitzvah celebrations. These memories sat dormant for years until I sat down to write this piece.

It’s funny how, when looking back with the lens of a child, my memories of Rockdale are of locations and inanimate objects. Now, my memories and experiences are all tied to the humans who fill that space, and our connection as a community.

Rabbi Coran, z”l, and Rabbi Kahan have been a part of every celebration and major tribulation of my adult life. I could fill this whole issue of Shofar Soundings with stories of their officiating, supporting, counseling, grieving with, and loving my family and me. I feel comforted by the thought of working through future life cycle events with Rabbi Binder, and all of our future spiritual leaders, knowing that we have shared, people-focused values at Rockdale Temple. It’s those shared values that have led me to know and befriend so many amazing people within our congregation.

My children, Jonah and Levi, make the 6th generation of my family to be a part of this sacred community. While the physical space may look different, they too have had an opportunity to run up and down the stairs and chapel aisles, eat bagels on Sunday mornings while I prepared for class, hide out in the bathroom during a High Holy Day Service or two, and build relationships with our amazing temple family. Because of this, Jake and I have chosen to leave a gift through the Create Your Jewish Legacy program to this Sacred Community so that future generations of my family and yours, can create their own memories and experiences. We give with hope that our beautiful community continues to thrive for all future generations. 

Fri, June 14 2024 8 Sivan 5784