B’nai Amoona has father-son team


It isn’t unusual for a congregation to have two rabbis. However, it is unusual for those two rabbis to be son and father. Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose is the senior rabbi at Congregation B’nai Amoona, and his father, Rabbi Dr. Neal Rose, is the congregation’s rabbi in residence.

“We think we are the only place in the country, probably in the world, where the son is the rabbi and brought the father,” Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose said.

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“Around here I’m called rabbi doctor, that’s what separates the two of us,” Dr. Neal Rose said.

The father joining the son was quite by accident, said Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose. The congregation of 850 families was in the process of looking for another rabbi. They had realized no matter how young and energetic their senior rabbi was, 850 families is still a lot of people. Dr. Neal Rose had just completed a four-month stint as B’nai Amoona’s rabbinic-scholar-in-residence. The members had really come to know him and love him and suggested he stay on in a new position.

“From the congregation’s perspective, they were not just hiring another rabbi, they hired a rabbinic scholar,” Carnie Shalom Rose said. “My father raises the academic and intellectual bar, and brings his tremendous skills in counseling: family, individual and children. They weren’t simply looking for another pitcher in the bullpen, they were looking to add new dimension.”

Neal Rose likes to point out he did not come from a family of rabbis. His grandfather was a hard working man who loved to go to shul. Dr. Neal Rose was born in Brooklyn and went to school in New York. He graduated as a rabbi from Jewish Theological Seminary and received his doctorate from Hebrew Union College. He left New York to follow his mentor, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, to Winnipeg, which presented a tremendous amount of opportunities. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Neal Rose practiced family therapy and continued teaching both subjects: religion at one university and counseling at another school.

His wife, Carol, is a poet, writer, teacher and practitioner and teacher of waking dream therapy. She received a certificate of ordination as spiritual director from Zalman Schachter-Shalomi following years of study. The couple have five children, seven grandchildren and “twins due any minute.” Three of their five children are rabbis. One son is a psychologist in Israel and active with Young Judea. A daughter is attending the University of Judaism.

“When I retired early at age 60, I realized I had started university when I was 18 and never left,” Dr. Neal Rose said. “It was a great gift. It is one of those things that if I had it to do it all over again, I would.”

Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose said his father is anything but retired. In Canada, he served as the director of spiritual care of the Jewish community long term care home. Also, though he was not a pulpit rabbi, he was very much a community rabbi. He was always deeply involved in life cycle events and actively involved in the Jewish and interfaith communities.

Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose was born in New York and grew up in Winnipeg and received his undergraduate degree in comparative religion. He majored in business administration and non-profit management at the University of Judaism and was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1995. He is continuing his education at Spertus College studying applied Jewish spirituality.

One of the highlights of his life was receiving the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award in 1985. The award is named for Terry Fox, a one-legged runner who ran across Canada before dying of cancer. It is presented by the government of Canada for excellence in academics, athletics and community service.

Unlike other St. Louis returnees, Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose and his wife, Paulie, did not have any umbilical cord snatching them back to the area. The couple had previously lived in Japan and New York: very fast, very busy places. The couple have four children — Noa, Zakai, Lev and Ellior — and were concerned about the hectic environment for bringing up a family.

“My wife Paulie, who is much more intuitive than I, felt New York was really not the right place to raise a child,” Carnie Shalom Rose said.

Coincidentally, Rabbi Irwin Kula, who had previous served at Congregation B’nai Amoona, was the scholar-in-residence at Rose’s congregation in New York. Through their conversations, Rabbi Kula told him about the synagogue’s search for a new senior rabbi and a match was made.

“We didn’t look anywhere else,” Carnie Shalom Rose said. “We felt at ease with the Midwestern values and were excited about being with a congregation with such an illustrious history looking for innovation and change.”

The congregation has been very warm and welcoming to the father and son and their families.

“The congregation always has great love for their Klei Kodesh,” the younger Rose said. “Their hospitality is quite special.”

His father has enjoyed the variety of opportunities available to him. In a given day, he will find himself teaching classes spanning three generations. He’ll start the morning with pre-school classes, teach an adult b’nai mitzvah class and then find himself teaching an adult class with some of the grandparents of the preschoolers from that morning.

“Actually sometimes the generations are working on the same issues, just from different points of view,” Neal Rose said.

The love and admiration between father and son is clear from their comments and working relationship. Both are very pleased to be able to work together and spend time together. The entire family is grateful for having the opportunity for the grandparents and grandchildren living in the same town.

“Conservative Judaism is a very nuanced thing,” Neal Rose said. “When I watch the way — and where — Carnie is taking things, I realize he has an intuitive understanding of that phenomenon which is called conservative Judaism.”

“What I know is clearly from my parents,” Carnie Shalom Rose said. “My daughter Noa has expressed her interest in being a veterinarian. One evening I was talking with my son Zakai and asked him what he was going to do when he grew up. He said, ‘Well, I know Noa is going to be a veterinarian so I better be a rabbi — because it’s the family business.'”