Rabbi David Komerofsky, a Texas resident for 14 years, is hanging up his cowboy boots and hat – or in his case, leaving them to his son, Gabe, who attends the University of Texas – to return to Ohio.
Komerofsky will become rabbi of Temple Israel, a Reform congregation, in Canton starting July 1.
But it won’t be hard for the 48-year-old living in San Antonio to adjust to Ohio’s white-out winters and hair-frizzing summers – he was raised in Akron, attended the University of Cincinnati and was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. Even his wife of a little more than five years, Ronit Sherwin, CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, is from the Cleveland area.
To Komerofsky, the 1,440-mile move isn’t your run-of-the-mill job transplant. He’s returning home.
“Coming to Canton – it’s very exciting,” Komerofsky said. “Texas has been a wonderful experience, but it’s been 14 years in two very different settings ... I always said Akron was – tongue in cheek – a great place to grow up and then leave, but I’m coming back to Canton. Canton has all of the benefits I loved about being in Akron: being close to family and being in a place where my children will not take Judaism for granted, just like I didn’t.”
Before he left for the state of rodeos and The Alamo, Komerofsky began his career at the Hebrew Union College and worked his way up to dean of students and director of the rabbinical school.
In Texas, Komerofsky served as executive director of the Texas Hillel Foundation at the University of Texas in Austin, worked remotely for Hillel International and as spiritual leader of Temple Chai in San Antonio.
But despite how he found Texas’ Jewish communities “very warm like a family, embracing with very deep roots and similar to Ohio’s,” he decided he’d move back to Northeast Ohio once his twins, Gabe and Lainey, graduated high school. It was in the fall and the realization his twins were now 20 and attending college that it was time for him and and his wife to go back to the place where they both began their separate journeys, but now together with their mixed family also consisting of Sherwin’s 10-year-old twins.
As a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, he used its placement service where congregations looking for rabbis submit an application and rabbis in the placement process put together a resume and statement. After submitting his materials, the placement office then helps make matches.
“As soon as I submitted my materials, the placement office said Temple Israel was interested in talking to me,” Komerofsky said. “I looked and I knew about Canton, but I hadn’t been there in many, many years. The more I researched, put in my application, had a number of phone calls and a committee interview, it was the only congregation where I interviewed. It just was meant to be.”
He will replace Rabbi Emeritus Jon Adland, who retired in 2019, and Rabbi Emeritus John H. Spitzer, who retired in 2008.
Komerofsky, who said he knew he wanted to be a rabbi when he was 12, looks forward to continuing Temple Israel’s 135-year tradition and getting to know each congregant.
“I want to meet everyone and learn what their priorities are, what they find most meaningful and their involvement in the congregation, what things they would like to change; I just want to get to know people,” Komerofsky said. “The congregation is celebrating 135 years this year, so my first goal is not to break anything. Before I start creating something, I want to make sure that it’s an appropriate and a good match for the congregation.”