The American Israelite is pleased to recognize the inaugural class of people of the year, whom we thank for their service to the Cincinnati Jewish community: Michael Oestreicher and J. David Rosenberg, who have both retired recently from the board of The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati; Bob Weil and Bill Kahn, past and present directors of Weil Kahn Funeral Home, and Pam Saeks, for her role in Jewish engagement on behalf of the Mayerson Foundation.


William (Bill) Kahn

Bill Kahn was born in Cleveland but moved to Wyoming, OH as a child. After college at Ohio State, Kahn worked for fifteen years in advertising and the furniture business for his father-in-law before he was invited to come to the (then) Weil Funeral Home in 1989, from which his father was retiring. After an apprenticeship of two years, Kahn took the state boards in 1991.

Kahn purchased the Weil Kahn Funeral Home in 2019, continuing to provide in Cincinnati the halakhic Jewish burial services that are essential to a Jewish community. A third generation of the Kahn family will be joining the business in March, when daughter Lauren returns to Cincinnati from Dallas where she worked and was active within the Jewish community.

Kahn said, “It’s my privilege to help the Jewish community in Cincinnati; it’s an honor to help people during their most difficult times.”


Michael Oestreicher

Michael Oestreicher was born in Cincinnati, attending Walnut Hills High School, as did so many members of his generation in Jewish Cincinnati. He got his start as a volunteer within the Jewish community when he was invited to serve on the Glen Manor Board; his first large role, and one Oestreicher said he was especially proud of, was as president of Isaac M. Wise Temple, a position his father had once held. He also cited as “consequential” his role as one of three co-founders of the Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati, which brought all the Jewish cemeteries in the region under a single management in 2008.

Oestreicher said he had strong feelings about “the fortunate position I was in” as first president of the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati in the new era, after the sale of Jewish Hospital; the budgetary support that permitted was significant for the Cincinnati Jewish community.


J. David Rosenberg

J. David Rosenberg jokes that he is “an immigrant to Cincinnati,” having grown up in Lexington where he worked behind the counter of Rosenberg’s, his parents’ small, family-run business that sold jewelry, leather goods and luggage. His education was at Lexington’s Henry Clay High School, the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Finance and the University of Kentucky College of Law, and he is a Senior Partner in the Cincinnati law firm of Keating, Muething & Klekamp. Rosenberg credits his attitude that law is a calling to growing up in a Jewish family where relatives’ lives had been shaped by anti-Semitism and violence in countries without legal order or democratic rule of law.

Rosenberg has been active in “paying it forward” to better his community through his volunteer service and philanthropy. In December 2019, the  University of Kentucky Board of Trustees renamed the College of Law as the “University of Kentucky J. David Rosenberg College of Law,” in recognition of the generosity of his sizable donations and service to the college. Within the Jewish community of Cincinnati, Rosenberg has served on the boards or as a trustee at Isaac M. Wise Temple, The American Jewish Committee Cincinnati Chapter, the Hillel Foundation of the University of Cincinnati, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, United Jewish Cemeteries, and has recently retired from The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati after more than a decade of service.

Rosenberg expressed pride in his service to the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, where he participated in the sale of Jewish Hospital and in establishing the organizational infrastructure, culture and direction subsequent to that sale. He said that he “had never served on a volunteer board that worked harder” than that of the Jewish Foundation, and that it had been  an honor and privilege to serve with the founding trustees.


Pamela Richards Saeks

Pamela Richards Saeks is a Jewish engagement expert who spent nearly two decades as the Director of Jewish Innovation and Engagement at the Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation. There she earned a reputation as a game-changer, developing and managing dozens of successful start-up initiatives aimed at connecting unaffiliated and disenfranchised young adults, families, teens, interfaith couples, baby boomers and others to Jewish life.  Some of these programs included Access for Jewish Young Professionals, YP's at the JCC, Shalom Baby, Shalom Family, Fusion and more.

Over the years, many thousands of people participated in these programs, which resulted in numerous marriages (and babies!) and a multitude of other meaningful relationships and experiences, and opened up new pathways to affiliation and involvement in the Jewish community. These initiatives helped secure Cincinnati as a desirable destination for young people and families looking for a vibrant Jewish community.  

Saeks is also known for her contributions to the Jewish community through her volunteer work, including starting the Cincinnati Pesach Delivery Project, now a program of Jewish Family Service, and Dor L' Dor, an intergenerational program at Yavneh/Rockwern. Saeks’ current venture is Be Bold Creative, a consulting firm that helps Jewish organizations across the

country build relationships with their target audiences and move the needle toward greater Jewish engagement through effective marketing and innovative program development.

"I've had the good fortune to be able to take risks, experiment with new ways of thinking and spend time listening, observing and absorbing," Saeks explains. "I know that not everyone who does this work is afforded those luxuries. I am now devoting this phase of my career to sharing what I've learned with my fellow colleagues in the trenches,  because I know how much they have riding on getting it right!"

"I've had the good fortune to be able to take risks, experiment with new ways of thinking and spend time listening, observing and absorbing," Saeks explains. "I know that not everyone who does this work is afforded those luxuries. I am now devoting this phase of my career to sharing what I've learned with my fellow colleagues in the trenches,  because I know how much they have riding on getting it right!"

Saeks and her husband, Sonny live in Blue Ash.  They have been married for 38 years and are the parents of Karly and Kevin and daughter-in-law, Sarah.


Robert (Bob) Weil

Bob Weil was the fourth generation in his family to head the Weil Funeral Home. His great-grandfather, Isaac Weil had moved from a horse and livery business into funerals in the early 1900’s, buying a funeral parlor that was going out of business at an auction to sell off that parlor’s horses. Weil’s grandfather and father, Gordon Weil Sr. and Jr. headed the Weil Funeral Home in succession, moving it from downtown to Reading Road in North Avondale to its current location on Cornell Road, following the community as the Cincinnati Jewish population moved northward during the 20th century. Members of the Weil family provided Jewish burial services to the Cincinnati community for 112 years until Bob retired fully and sold the business to Bill Kahn in 2019.


The American Israelite thanks all these individuals for their service, which has strengthened and enriched the Cincinnati Jewish community. In this historic community, which was, in Rosenberg’s words, “on the cutting edge of Jewish life” from its founding, we inaugurate this new tradition of naming persons of the year; suggestions and nominations will be welcomed in November of 2021.

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