Celebrating Barry Rosenberg’s legacy

Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D., is  President and CEO of Jewish Federation of St. Louis. 

By Andrew Rehfeld

Last week’s coverage of Federation’s involvement with the Jewish Community Center’s financial settlement highlighted the supporting role of Federation to our agencies.  While I am grateful for the attention to Federation’s role, the main credit goes to the JCC—its board, professional leadership and supporters—whose commitment brought about the resolution.  And among Federation’s staff, the article did not properly convey the central role that my predecessor—former Federation CEO Barry Rosenberg – played in our supporting efforts.  

Far more than simply “getting the ball rolling” as the article described, along with Bob Millstone, Federation’s Board Chair, and our lay leadership, Barry’s vision helped guide our own lay leadership towards support for the JCC.  Barry continued to work on this project for months after stepping down as CEO last September, and did not complete his work until the very last meeting at which our Board approved our supporting role.  As he prepares to end 20 years of service to our community, it is worth clarifying for Barry’s efforts were emblematic of his 20 years of service to our community.  Indeed, I believe that Barry’s support for the JCC settlement will be remembered as among his most significant professional contributions to our community.  

After serving this past year as Senior Advisor to the CEO, Barry will formally retire from Federation in August.  On April 28 our community will have a chance to celebrate Barry’s achievements on April 28 before and during our ThriveLIVE! event.  I invite you will join hundreds of other community members in recognizing Barry’s multiple contributions to our thriving community.

In addition to cultivating Federation support for the JCC settlement, Barry will leave behind a number of key legacies.  Two others stand out in particular for me.

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First, Barry has long been an advocate for the necessity of Jewish leadership development to cultivate a foundation for professional and lay leaders of this community.  Under his leadership, and with the support of key donors and other professional staff, Federation began the Millstone Institute.  In just a few years, the program has become a national leader in the field and we regularly receive calls from other Federations eager to learn from our example. Barry’s vision and support made that program a reality and our community will continue to benefit from it for the foreseeable future.

Second, Barry brought to St. Louis a deep love for Israel and the Jewish People. Barry recognized the transformational power of Israel to the lifeblood of our community during a time in which Israel moved from a newly born nation to the mature and complex democracy it is now.  Because of Barry’s efforts, our community remains at the forefront of partnerships with communities in, and the people of Israel.  

Federation has created two tangible ways for the community to formally thank Barry for his years of service. On April 28 we are sponsoring a “Thank You” event for Barry to recognize these and his other many achievements.  The event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Peabody Opera House.  The “Thank You” event precedes ThriveLIVE!, our community event featuring Jason Alexander.  For more information about tickets please contact Lori Wishne, Assistant Director of Development, at [email protected] or 314-442-3830.

Federation has also set up the Barry Rosenberg Endowment for Jewish Leadership that will specifically fund initiatives that further his work and vision in this area.  Individuals interested in supporting that endowment should contact Ruth Lederman, VP and Director of Development at [email protected] or 314-442-3845.

In August, Barry will be transitioning from his current role as Senior Advisor to the CEO, to a position of teaching and scholarship on issues of non-profit leadership and the idea of the Jewish People.  We are grateful for his service to our community, fortunate he will be remaining in St. Louis and look forward to his active involvement as a lay leader with the start of the new Jewish Year.