Rabbi Rose leaving B’nai Amoona, will assume CEO of Cleveland JCC in 2023



Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose is retiring from his rabbinic position at Congregation B’nai Amoona to become the CEO of the Mandel JCC in Cleveland. He will begin a planned sabbatical after Yom Kippur on Oct. 6 and assume his new job sometime in early 2023.

“Rabbi Rose has been an integral part of this congregation for 18 years,” said Jeff Singer, president of B’nai Amoona, adding that many congregants were “shocked” upon learning the news in an email letter he sent to them Friday.

“There are so many things about him that will be missed — his friendship and the interpersonal relationships he forged with congregants, his wisdom, messages and teachings from the bimah, his teaching in all the classes that he led,” Singer said. “We’ve been spoiled because you’re not going to find another bimah rabbi quite like Rabbi Rose.”

But, added Singer, he and the congregation’s lay leaders feel confident that the remaining clergy — Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham, Cantor Sharon Nathanson and Rabbi Neal Rose, who is Carnie Rose’s father and serves as senior rabbinic scholar — will continue to successfully lead the 140-year-old Conservative congregation and “exceed the needs of the congregation spiritually, educationally and communally.”

Singer noted that the leadership and clergy were already poised for Rose to begin a 10-month sabbatical in October. “Right now, because we were set up for (Rose) to go into a sabbatical, we plan to keep the status quo. We really are lucky to have the clergy team we do, who have strong, caring, meaningful relationships with our congregants.”

That said, he added that Rose’s departure is “especially concerning for a lot of our older congregants who have had a number of life challenges that they were able to discuss with (Rabbi Rose).”

“They are worried about losing a great leader and rabbi,” said Singer. “They wish him and his family well, of course. They watched their four kids grow up here and regard them as part of the fabric of our community.”

Rose understands that and expressed his own sadness about leaving. But he said he’s taking the job in Cleveland because he felt after 18 years at B’nai Amoona, the time had come to do something different.

“It’s a matter of something different and the opportunity to use parts of myself that I haven’t had a chance to utilize in a long time — management, the CEO element, being responsible for a bigger staff and budget, a wide variety of programming that goes beyond what a synagogue normally does,” said Rose, who is 55 years old. “I’m not going to pursue another pulpit. This is radically different.”

Cleveland has a larger Jewish community than St. Louis, with roughly 85,000 Jews compared to 60,000. In his new position, Rose will oversee a budget roughly five times that of B’nai Amoona’s and a staff of about 200.

He said while he considered looking for opportunities in Los Angeles and New York, he and his wife, Paulie, feel “a real draw to the Midwest — this is our place.”

“If I were staying in synagogue, there is nowhere else in the world I’d want to be than B’nai Amoona,” said Rose, whose four children are grown (the youngest is a freshman at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland).

“This is the Garden of Eden of congregational jobs. I’m not leaving with any malice or anger,” Rose said. “The only sadness I really have is that I love the people here deeply and I’m going to deeply miss the families and the relationships.”

Rose said some congregants have asked if he will officiate at their wedding — or funeral — so this is not a final goodbye.

“I’ll be coming back and forth,” Rose said. (In addition to his congregation, Rose’s parents, two of his wife’s sisters and two of the couple’s children, students at Washington University, are in St. Louis.)

He said he feels he is leaving the congregation in good hands with the remaining clergy and lay leaders.

“They were primed and ready for me to go away for 10 months,” he said. “It is a dramatic shift, but this group of people is more than capable. It’s an experienced, loving, dedicated group.”

Rose’s plans for his sabbatical are to travel and to write a book about Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

“I hope to still write the book,” he said, “though I’m not sure it will get done as quickly as I thought.”

In 2010, B’nai Amoona awarded Rose a 21-year contract. Rose is only the fifth senior rabbi to serve B’nai Amoona, one of the nation’s largest Conservative congregations. Roughly 715 families belong.

Singer said while there is sadness and some disappointment over Rose’s decision, the overwhelming sentiments are gratitude and appreciation.

“We want to thank him and his family for the service he has provided to us for 18 years. It is something that is going to be missed and is not easily replaced, and that’s what we are going to be focused on,” Singer said. “As we start this new year, B’nai Amoona will continue to move forward. I think what the congregants want to say is thank you for all your years of service and for everything you have done for our congregation and our families.”