Introduction to K.K. Bene Israel - Rockdale Temple
K.K. Bene Israel, familiarly known as Rockdale Temple, is the oldest congregation west of the Allegheny Mountains. Founded in 1824, Rockdale Temple has been at the forefront of Reform Judaism in America and was one of the founding congregations of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Located in Amberley Village, Rockdale is on the Ridge Road Mayerson JCC Campus, overlooking the Ronald Reagan (Cross- County) Highway. During our 190 year history, nine rabbis have been our spiritual leaders. Rabbi Sigma Faye Coran has served our congregation since 2004.
Our rabbis, educator, staff, and lay-leaders help guide and help our community to create personally fulfilling expressions of their Judaism. We offer a choice of programming designed for the needs of our diverse congregation. We emphasize the value of life-long learning. We believe that being a Reform Jew means having the responsibility and freedom to seek and to choose the Jewish way of life most comfortable to the individual. Reform Jews embark on a life-long spiritual adventure of discovery and reward.
Rockdale Temple was founded by a small group of Jews who had settled in Cincinnati, then a frontier town. Their first meeting took place in 1824. These leaders recognized the need for a synagogue and efforts were made to raise funds for a building. In 1836 our first home at Sixth and Broadway was consecrated. In 1852 another synagogue was built on the same site. As the Jewish community grew and moved to other parts of the city, the congregation also moved, first to Eighth and Mound Streets, then to Rockdale and Harvey Avenues and, in 1969, to the present location on Ridge Road in Amberley Village.
For thirty-one years, readers or cantors conducted services. In 1855, Dr. Max Lilienthal was elected as our first permanent rabbi. Under Dr. Lilienthal’s leadership many reforms were introduced into the previously orthodox service and the congregation was actively involved in the beginnings of the Reform movement. Since that time there have been nine rabbis and Rabbi Sigma Faye Coran now serves the congregation. Throughout the long history of the congregation distinguished rabbis have relied on remarkably able and committed lay leadership. Rabbis and members have participated actively in communal activities in the Jewish and general community.
A progressive spirit and recognition of the need for change and growth characterize Rockdale Temple's goals. There is outreach to a diverse membership. In addition to the religious school, the congregation participates in the Cincinnati Reform Jewish High School. The Sisterhood (Women of Reform Judaism), the Brotherhood (Men of Reform Judaism), and the youth groups facilitate activities which enhance congregational life. Various adult education programs are offered with many issues addressed in evening classes. The human experience is the constant in the history of K. K. Bene Israel.
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