Why We Give: Sustaining the Community We Love
Ken and Carrie Goldhoff’s grandchildren are seventh generation Cincinnatians, and their roots in Ohio’s Jewish community run deep. While Ken’s family was involved in Cincinnati’s Jewish community, Carrie’s parents founded the Hebrew Day School in Dayton. Through their families, they both developed a love for, and connection to their Jewish community.
Giving is the first, not the last, thing that Ken and Carrie talk about each year. Their parents’ and grandparents’ examples, along with their own Jewish experiences, drive this desire to give back. Leading Jewish lives and supporting Jewish causes such as the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is not only important to them, but they feel it is their responsibility.
“My family were recipients of community money for a long time, probably going back to the first Goldhoffs in Cincinnati,” Ken said. “When I was older, I realized where that money came from and so, when I had the money, it was important for me to give. I’m in the first generation of Goldhoffs who can give back in this way.”
Ken’s great-great-grandfather settled in Cincinnati in 1886 and his family has a long lineage in the city’s Jewish community. Growing up, almost everything Ken did was centered around Judaism. He spent many days at the JCC on Summit Road, had Shabbat dinner with his family on Friday nights, and loved visiting his grandfather at work at Pilders. His family went to Rockdale Temple where he remembers the genuine and caring rabbi, Rabbi Harold Hahn.
As Ken grew up in Cincinnati, Carrie was less than an hour away involved in Dayton’s small but strong Jewish community. Her love of Judaism was wrapped up in fun, family, and Jewish education. Her extended family celebrated Jewish holidays together and were huge supporters of Israel. Her parents donated their time and money to Jewish causes.
“Giving was a habit for my parents,” Carrie said. “They taught us that it isn’t the dollars and cents that matter as much as the fact that you give. That is how I formed my own habit.”
For almost a decade, Carrie was a member of her synagogue’s choir, traveling around the world with the cantor and his wife who became her mentors in music and life. Carrie went to three different Jewish overnight camps and was president of her Jewish sorority at the University of Georgia. Both Carrie and Ken were very involved in the BBYO. They had youth group advisors who influenced their lives, and later became BBYO advisors themselves.
“I learned more about my Judaism from BBYO than anything before or since,” Ken said. “At first, when we were [BBYO] advisors, we had time to give. Then when we had money, it was important to us to give some.”
Ken and Carrie first met each other at BBYO regional events, but it wasn’t until Carrie moved to Cincinnati for graduate school that she and Ken dated and eventually got married. They became involved in many community organizations and served on quite a few boards, including the Jewish Federation. Working under Jay Price on the Jewish Family Service board, Carrie learned lessons that have helped her become the lay leader she is today.
“What Jay taught me was so subtle,” said Carrie. “Sitting in that chair at board meetings, I knew that I mattered. It’s not just the money, it’s the time, energy, and making others feel important.”
The Goldhoffs’ three children have built Jewish lives of their own. They all agree that going to Jewish summer camp and traveling on the March of the Living trip had the biggest influence on them living Jewish lives.
“I’m hopeful for the future of the Jewish people and Jewish Cincinnati,” Carrie said. “I think it will look different than it looked for us, but as Judaism evolves and changes, I know the agencies of the Federation will too. They will meet the needs of Cincinnati’s Jewish people.”
“Leading by example is a big deal,” Ken said. “No one else is going to sustain our Jewish community and our Judaism if we don’t do it ourselves. We can’t expect our children to do something we didn’t do.”
Carrie and Ken are members of the Silver Circle Society which honors those with 25 or more years of annual giving to the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. For over 20 years, Carrie has been a member of the Lion of Judah Society and has held leadership roles to in the Women’s Philanthropy group. She was a Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award winner at the 2022 International Lion of Judah Conference. Both Carrie and Ken have been recipients of many leadership awards in the Jewish community, including the Kate. S Mack and Clara Greller Young Leadership Awards. Carrie and Ken have chaired several Jewish Federation of Cincinnati events, exercising their strengths as connectors, and sharing their passion while bringing the Jewish community together.
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