The newly dedicated installation at the Loveland Cemetery features numerous plaques highlighting Cincinnati’s robust Jewish history

By Julia Olson
Assistant Editor

On Sunday, September 10, at Loveland Cemetery, Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Judaica Fund dedicated a new installation of rescued historical plaques that represent hundreds of years of Cincinnati Jewish History. The installation, a permanent, outdoor exhibit, is the first of its kind and was dedicated as part of the finale to JCGC’s Capital Campaign. An introductory sign at the front of the installation describes the effort of the exhibit as one meant “to preserve the history of Cincinnati’s Jewish community and to ensure that their legacies endure.” The plaques have been donated by individuals, congregations, the Cincinnati Judaica Fund, as well as other organizations. The plaques list names of donors and members of various congregations and organizations, including the officers of Adath Israel Congregation from 1917, the founding donors of Hebrew Union College, dating before 1900, donors to the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati, dating to 1850, as well as many others. The Sherith Israel Congregation Ladies Auxiliary has a plaque, recovered from the cemetery chapel, which is still uninscribed.

The label next to the plaque describes the blank stone as a memorial “to the congregation’s unrealized plans.” Each plaque is accompanied by a small informational label. Visitors seeking more information may scan a QR code on the label. From there, they will be taken to a website that includes even more information about the plaque, as well as photos, a list of names featured on the monument, and an option for users to submit their own personal stories related to the plaque.

The structure still has space for additional plaques, so there are more opportunities to commemorate those who have dedicated their time and money to the Jewish community in Cincinnati.

The dedication was held next to the installation, where attendees were treated to baked goods and a champagne toast to celebrate the event. Rabbi Elena Stein led the blessing as attendees raised their glasses and sang with her.

Ray Warren, President of the JCGC , also spoke during the dedication.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t recognize that we all stand on the shoulders of our predecessors,” said Randolph. “A strong community is not created by sprinkling a box of Miracle Grow on the soil. It takes hard work, perseverance, dedications and yes, money. As we look to the future it’s appropriate and, frankly, imperative, that we recognize the hard work of those in our collective past.”

Following Mr. Warren, Marc Randolph, Executive Director of the Cincinnati Judaica Fund spoke. He stressed the community-wide cooperation that helped make the project a reality.

“One of the most impactful lessons we have learned over the last thirteen years is the power of people coming together for a shared goal. Each of the items in this fantastic monument was preserved and collected through the joint efforts of various people and organizations in the community. Nothing was collected by itself.” He added, “It’s really amazing what we can do when we come together as a community. In my opinion, JCGC is one of the best examples of what the Jewish community can do when it comes together.” Randolph encouraged visitors to look at each person listed on the plaques. “Each person listed did something in their life in building the Cincinnati Jewish community that was worth remembering, that was worth being inscribed on a plaque.” He concluded, “ I hope that everyone here will remember those who came before us and built our community, and that everyone here will wear the mantle of responsibility for building our community and our future.”

Susan Susskind, the new Executive Director of the JCGC, also spoke at the event. “Under my leadership and with the effort of my very talented and knowledgable team, there will be a bright future at JCGC, and we will be embarking on some great projects.” One of these projects was the “Foundations of our Future” installation at Loveland Cemetery, and Susskind outlined a few others in her remarks. Funding from the Capital Campaign will also help the renovation of the JCGC office building at the Walnut Hills cemetery, as well as monument and headstone restoration. The JCGC cares for over 35,000 historic headstones in the Greater Cincinnati area. Funds will also be used to create grave markers for Holocaust survivors. The hope, says Susskind, is that the JCGC will be able to offer these markers to Jewish cemeteries all over the country. “Our cemeteries have historical meaning and offer a connection to events that have shaped our lives. They are a symbol of our cultural identity,” Susskind concluded.