The Hickory Jewish Community's History

Interesting facts and details about our history are available in the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life.

Meet Our Rabbi

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Dennis Jones has worked with families in the Hickory/Taylorsville area since 1984, serving for almost 20 years, along with his wife Kathy, as “live-in” residential counselors for troubled teens in group home programs run by the Catawba County Department of Social Services. Beginning in 2003, Dennis was employed as a math teacher at Alexander Central High School in Taylorsville. He specialized in teaching students with learning and behavioral challenges. Dennis just retired from public school teaching in the summer of 2020.

Dennis, who joined Temple Beth Shalom in 1992, served on the Temple Board of Directors for over 17 years and was the Temple’s president for eight years. All members of Dennis’ family are active in both the Jewish and greater Hickory area communities. His wife, Kathy, is a retired school social worker, having also worked at Alexander Central. Their older daughter, Heidi, is a registered nurse with a B.S. from Appalachian State University. Younger daughter, Jaimi, also a school social worker, is taking a year off to finish her Masters in Social Work at Appalachian State University. Their youngest, son Jesse, holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from North Carolina State University and works as a researcher at Oakridge National Labs in Oakridge, Tennessee.

Dennis holds a B.A. degree in Psychology from Malone College, a Quaker-founded school in Canton, Ohio, where he also did significant course work in religious studies and Biblical languages. He has an M.A. in Education from Appalachian State. As an affirmation of his faith and commitment to Judaism, he applied to two rabbinical seminaries with strong on-line course offerings and was accepted by both. Dennis chose the program that best matched Temple Beth Shalom’s focus and began his rabbinical studies in July of 2014, receiving his rabbinic ordination in June of 2019.

Dennis has served as the rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom since 2014. He is committed to making the Temple a place where individuals of any gender, race, religion, or family configuration will be able to make a connection with God, with the Jewish community, and with the nation of Israel. He has a particular vision to strengthen educational programs for children and teens as they are the future of the Jewish community and of our world. Any investment we make in them will pay huge dividends in the future.

Dennis has served on the Board of Directors of the Exodus Homes faith-based residential program since 2014 and is currently its secretary. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Catawba Valley Interfaith Council since that organization’s founding in 2015 and is currently its president.