UH names Rosenberg as senior rabbi

Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg

BY PATRICIA CORRIGAN, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg has been appointed the next senior rabbi at United Hebrew Congregation in Creve Coeur. On Nov. 17, the congregation’s Board of Trustees unanimously ratified the recommendation of the rabbinic search committee and made the appointment.

Rosenberg, who has served at United Hebrew for over six years, will assume the title of senior rabbi on July 1, when Rabbi Howard Kaplansky, the current senior rabbi, retires and becomes rabbi emeritus. Rosenberg will be the fifth senior rabbi-the first female in that post-at United Hebrew, which was founded in 1837. It serves more than 1,300 families and is located at 13788 Conway Road.

“Rabbi Rosenberg is a wonderful choice,” says Bob Gummers, executive director at United Hebrew. “She is creative, energetic – a real asset to our congregation.”

Rosenberg, 36, notes that she is excited about her new job and also excited about the future of United Hebrew. “We are headed in a great direction, with the congregation moving forward as a whole. As we continue moving forward, we will continue to meet the needs of Jews in the 21st century, making certain that we are relevant to our members and relevant to the Jewish community.”

Rosenberg’s appointment comes at a time when United Hebrew is in talks with Temple Israel, also located in Creve Coeur, regarding future collaboration and a possible merger between the two Reform synagogues. United Hebrew Board of Trustees President Ed Becker notes that he and Dr. David Weinstein, president of Temple Israel, plan to issue a joint statement in the near future regarding those discussions. “At this point, both congregations are committed to collaborating with each other and with others in St. Louis,” says Becker. “Our talks could lead to a merger, but that is not a forgone conclusion. I would prefer that today’s news be about Rabbi Rosenberg.”

A native of Houston, Rosenberg decided at the age of 15 that she wanted to be a rabbi. She came to United Hebrew in June 2004. Prior to that, she served as regional director of admissions and recruitment for Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. She earned a B.A. in religion and culture from Boston University and then received her M.A.H.L. and rabbinical ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2001.

Rosenberg serves on the board of the Central Agency for Jewish Education, Nishmah – The St. Louis Jewish Women’s Project and the St. Louis Hillel Foundation. She is currently vice president of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association. Rosenberg also has been an active participant in the Jewish Community Relations Council. She is married to H. Lee Rosenberg, youth director at United Hebrew. They have three children: Zoë, Joseph, and Sadie.

“Rabbi Rosenberg is terrific, a visionary, capable of big thinking,” says Becker. “In the last several months, she articulated the vision we were looking for as we spoke to senior rabbi candidates. Rabbi Kaplansky has been very supportive, too – he gets credit for bringing her in and I know he is excited to see this.”

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Kaplansky, 68, confirmed Becker’s words. “I am personally very delighted that Rabbi Rosenberg-my rabbi – has been ratified and will lead the congregation into the future. I congratulate the rabbinic search committee and the Board of Trustees on their good judgment.”

Kaplansky came to United Hebrew Congregation in 1985. He previously had served congregations in Springfield, Mass., and Pittsburgh, Pa., and was the director of the Midwest Council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. He received his B.A. degree from Ohio State University, and was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where he received his M.A.H.L. and D.D. degrees.

Over the years, Kaplansky has been president of the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council, the St. Louis Rabbinical Association and the Association of Reform Rabbis. He has served on the boards of the St. Louis Jewish Federation, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, the St. Louis Jewish Light, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis and combined Health Services of St. Louis.

Also, Kaplansky is an adjunct professor in Judaic Studies and Theology at Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis. He is the first chairman of the Michael and Barbara Newmark Institute and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Interfaith Partnership of St. Louis. He was formerly vice-president of the St. Louis Interfaith Clergy Council and of Doorways. Kaplansky and his wife, Susan, are the parents of two grown children and have four granddaughters.