At its first virtual Annual Meeting on June 7, K.K. Bene Israel/Rockdale Temple elected John G. Cobey as President of the historic congregation. Cobey is a member of Cohen, Todd, Kite, and Stanford, LLC, established by Senator Alfred M. Cohen, a lifelong member and past President of Rockdale Temple and grandfather of current member, Alfred M. Cohen. Cobey has been with the law firm for 52 years.
Cobey grew up in Galion, Ohio, attended high school at Brooks School in North Andover, MA, and is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Cincinnati Law School. He moved to Cincinnati when his mother, Phyllis Weston, did. He is married to Jan Frankel, a third-generation member of Rockdale Temple, whose grandparents Abe and Esther Frankel and mother, Helen Bruson Frankel, were Rockdale members. They are the parents of Max Cobey and David and Ariel Coby, and the grandparents of Elia Aviv.
Officers elected with Cobey were Sally Korkin, Vice President; Aaron Herzig, Treasurer; and Justin Levy, Secretary. Jennifer Clark, Stephanie De Falco, Bennett Kottler, and Tracy McMullen were re-elected as directors. New board members elected were Risa Feagins, Barrie Kraus, Joan Roberts, Abby Schwartz, and Larry Smilg. Ex-officio directors for 2020-2021 are Jim Heldman, Immediate Past President; Donna Gantner, President of Women of Rockdale/Sisterhood; and Andrew Gollin and Mark Friedman, Co-Presidents, Men of Rockdale/Brotherhood. Janet Cohen, Chris Malhotra, and Todd Schild have retired from the board following their years of service to the congregation.
A highlight of the Annual Meeting was the announcement of Rabbi Meredith Kahan as Acting Senior Rabbi. She has served Rockdale Temple as Assistant Rabbi and most recently as Associate Rabbi and Educator, having worked with and been mentored by Rabbi Sissy Coran, z”l.
During the meeting, Laura Wright, Rockdale’s new Executive Director was introduced to the membership, and the annual Gary Heldman Menorah Awards were presented by Rabbi Kahan. The Gary Heldman Menorah Award is presented to three congregants who have contributed during the past year, as well as for many years, to help build Rockdale Temple and enable it to grow toward the future while honoring its historic past. Recipients of the award were Janet Cohen, Justin Levy, and Karen Martin, former Executive Director who recently began Rabbinical School at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Cobey noted, “It is wonderful to be the President of a great American institution that is the oldest continuing Ashkenazi congregation in America, and the oldest congregation west of the Alleghenies. I often think about what the vision was of our first congregants in the 1820s, a group of Cincinnati Jewish pioneers. These founders of K.K. Bene Israel had optimism. Today, Rockdale Temple is a warm, caring, and friendly congregation, full of different people who have the same goal of repairing the world. My goal as President is to continue the great work of almost 200 years of leadership of this wonderful congregation that I am fortunate enough to lead. Joseph Jonas, our first President, would be proud that we are looking forward to celebrating our 200th anniversary in 2024.”