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Cincinnati, OH 45236

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A Warm & Inclusive place for our family

Jen & Larry Smilg

In 2011, shortly after moving to Cincinnati, we were introduced to a family who happened to be members of K.K. Bene Israel / Rockdale Temple. They invited us to join their family at a Rock Shabbat service. The immediate welcoming and friendship we felt was very special, and contributed to us being able to settle down comfortably in our new community. As we searched for a synagogue that felt like home, Rockdale stood out as a warm and inclusive place for our family. 

Rockdale Temple has been an important part of our lives. We have had a meaningful community to share joyous times, to support us in difficult times, and we have participated in wonderful and tough times that others in this community have experienced. Our children have attended Kehal Kodesh followed by Kulanu. The boys experienced Jewish summer camp, YGOR and NFTY. Most importantly they learned and grew
through their experiences. 

As the boys have grown up, we have become more involved with Rockdale through volunteer opportunities. Both of us have served on many committees over the past few years. Larry was a member of the Education Committee, the Rabbinic Search Committees, and currently serves on the Health & Safety Committee and the Board of Directors. Jen has served on the Crystal Celebration Committee, and with Women of Rockdale as a
Co-President, then President. She is also an active member of the Engagement Taskforce and has been helping to proofread and co-edit the Shofar Soundings for several years now. We have each been honored to receive a Menorah Award to recognize our service to the community.

We have been asked about the amount of time and effort that we put into our volunteer efforts at Rockdale, and how we manage it. Jen likes to say she’s a “serial volunteer”. What we have found is that the more we put into the community, the more we get back. Our involvement has helped us to build strong bonds with other temple members, the clergy, and the staff.

The most important feature of Rockdale is its warm and welcoming nature. It is what drew us to Rockdale in the first place, and it has been the cornerstone of the successes of our temple. But a welcoming community doesn’t just emerge—it has to be intentionally built. It starts with our leadership prioritizing that as a goal, and continues with each of us actively working to be welcoming to everyone.

As we have seen the importance of Rockdale to us and to others in our community, we have made the choice to not just support Rockdale with our time, we have also made the choice to support Rockdale financially. Our pledge to the Bene Israel Society through Create Your Jewish Legacy represents our belief that this is a critical institution that must be sustained now and in the future.

Wed, July 24 2024 18 Tammuz 5784