Generations: Rosalie and Stan Yacknin

Stanley and Rosalie Yacknin were married in 1949. Their life’s journeys have formed strong, rich continuous threads to Jewish communities spanning the United States, starting together the day that they met.

Rosalie, raised in a classic Reform Jewish family in St. Louis, was a freshman at Washington University; Stan, raised in a large extended Jewish family in Brooklyn, was a senior at St. Louis University. They met at a Hanukkah dance, hosted by Hillel, on December 7, 1947.

Soon after marriage they moved to Chicago where their four children were born. The communal sharing of raising children with Jewish values and social justice activities has bound and strengthened the friendships they have formed over seven decades. Their story is one of finding small numbers of Jews in communities and nurturing and growing a hospitable group focused on Jewish peoplehood and social justice. As they say, “Like a needle in a haystack”.

From Chicago they moved to a small town in Central Illinois, then to Puerto Rico, back again to Chicago and again to Puerto Rico, where their 3 daughters and son went through high school. Along the way, Stan became the president of several congregations that they helped to start. .

Growing tiny groups of Jews into strong communities in all of these places was rooted in wanting to make sure that their children had meaningful connections to Judaism, and Stan and Rosalie needing to make significant contributions. Whether finding retired Rabbis to winter in Puerto Rico or starting Sunday Schools with parent teachers in Ottawa, Iowa, Stan and Rosalie’s hallmark was to be resourceful, vibrant, and helpful members of every community they joined.

Their four adult children had settled separately in Pittsburgh, PA, Rochester, NY, Phoenix, AZ and San Rafael, by the time Stan and Rosalie were ready to retire. So they choose Bellingham, WA, as their retirement community! The Rabbi they spoke with, who was searching for Jews in Bellingham, implored them to join and contribute. Bellingham is the longest place that they have lived. The congregation there grew from 70 to 300 members.

In each community where they set down roots, they sought out and started activities that would keep them in touch with other members. In 2011, their daughter Hallie Yacknin-Maier convinced her parents to move from Bellingham, WA to be closer to her and the Rodef Sholom community. They immediately joined the committee providing meals for the homeless.

When their grandson Bram was Bar Mitzvah, they granted his wish to see the places where Stan had grown up in Brooklyn. They happened upon the synagogue where Stan had been Bar Mitzvah 60 years before, and Stan was greeted like a “prodigal son”.

Even while in vacationing in Venice, Italy, in 1989, Stan stepped in to form a minyan at the Orthodox synagogue. The Jewish way of finding family and belonging has always sustained them.