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Home From the Rabbi From the Rabbi - May 2020
From the Rabbi - May 2020 PDF Print E-mail
In memory of Rabbi Kenneth Roseman
  
I have had many friends in life, many teachers, many colleagues, and a few mentors.  Rabbi Kenneth Roseman may be the only person I can truly describe as all of those things and more.  He was a towering intellect and a towering physical presence, who brought all his many years of varied and rich experience to the life of the congregation and to the wider Corpus Christi community.  He leaves an unforgettable legacy in the lives of so many who he taught, whose lifecycles he made holy, and with whom he connected in the many communal roles he played.  
 
Rabbi Roseman was committed to learning and teaching in every form, with a unique ability to share his great knowledge and intellect in a way that was accessible and welcoming to all levels of learners and full of wit and wisdom.  Whether he was teaching in Torah study, speaking to the City Council, engaging in interfaith work, or selling pickles at Food Fest in his trademark pickle hat, he was able to make everything into an opportunity for questioning, teaching, and sharing edifying stories, so that all who met him felt they had learned something from the experience.  

In keeping with the fact that, in Hebrew, his name “Ken” means “yes”, he was dedicated to leading in a way that helped others access Judaism and justice.  When Rabbi Roseman was the dean of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, he was known as Coach, not just because of his physical stature but because the students considered him their supporter, their mentor and protector and not just the dean.  He was particularly proud of having led an effort many years ago to build a wheelchair accessible ramp in the sanctuary of his temple at the time so that a Bar Mitzvah who was in a wheelchair could access the bima with dignity, and with a broad grin.  

But, in keeping with the biblical prophetic call for justice, he was also more than willing to say “No” to injustice and to speak out against those who ignored the oppression of the modern equivalents of the stranger, the widow and the orphan.  He was unfailingly the first and most insistent voice at our clergy alliance meetings to insist that we hold the powers-that-be accountable and speak out for those who have no voice and no power of their own.  

He did all of this serious stuff with a sense of humor and joie de vivre, always there to make people laugh as well as think, and always ready to share his trademark puns (which he would allow to unfold with the utmost seriousness until the punchline!).  
 
And, perhaps even more than teaching, what gave him the greatest joy was his family, as we could see from the pleasure he showed whenever he had the opportunity to share good news about his family, especially the achievements of his grandchildren. 
 
Ken was a rabbi, a coach, a teacher, a mentor, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a colleague, a friend and so much more to so many people.  No amount of words can describe what he meant to this community and what we have lost with his passing.  Traditionally we say after someone dies “may their memory be a blessing.” In the case of Rabbi Roseman, there is no question of “may”.  His memory WILL be a blessing to all who had the honor of meeting him and learning from him. He was a great man, a great Rabbi, and a great mensch.

Rabbi Ilan Emanuel

 

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