Rabbinic Reflections

Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg: A 50-Year Rabbinic Career Focused on Youth, Education, and Social Action

A native of Chicago, Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg graduated from Indiana University before attending Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, where he was ordained in 1974. After serving as rabbi of Temple Sholom in Springfield, Ohio and Congregation Anshe Chesed in Beachwood, Ohio, he moved to Waterford, Connecticut, where he was rabbi at Temple Emanu-El from 1980 until his retirement in 2015. 

His rabbinate included a focus on youth, a passion for adult education, and a commitment to social action. Amongst his most cherished accomplishments are personalized and meaningful b’nei mitzvah experiences, being a camp rabbi at Eisner Camp, organizing state-wide shul-ins, being Jewish chaplain at Connecticut College for a quarter century, visiting refuseniks and relatives twice in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, leading five congregational trips to Israel, teaching numerous Jews by Choice and adult b’nei mitzvah, serving as a cruise rabbi, being president of Waterford Rotary Club and the Waterford Public Library Board, and being active in local clergy associations. 

“I learned much from my teachers, more from my colleagues, but most from my students.Talmud

A child at heart, I could empathize with children who need encouragement, be it when I was director of Camp Shalom Day Camp, on the rabbinic staff at Eisner Camp, teaching nervous b’nei mitzvah, challenging confirmands, or finding ways to make family services both meaningful and fun for people of all ages. Students from pre-kindergarten to college have given me more than I gave them.

Do not do unto others what you would not want done to you. That is the essence of the Torah.Hillel

I have had the pleasure of learning along with my adult students as we probed the text, explored deeper meanings, and discovered life’s lessons in Jewish values. I have been enriched by deep discussions on the full scope of Jewish topics from the Tanach, to rabbinic literature, to Jewish history, to Jewish current events. 

“Lo hamidrash ikar, ela hamaaseh, it is not what you say that matters, but what you do.” Rabbinic wisdom   

Abraham Joshua Heschel said that when he marched for civil rights, he felt like he was praying with his feet. Likewise, when I protested against war, advocated for civil rights, served meals at the community soup kitchen, and preached on topics like gun violence and climate control, I was doing God’s work.  

I was fortunate to be a part of Temple Emanu-El in Waterford, Connecticut, a congregation that prides itself on warmth, friendliness, and being heimish. We are a caring community blessed by a devoted Board of Trustees, talented religious school staff, active Sisterhood and Brotherhood, and a creative cantorial soloist, Sherry Barnes, a true inspiration. I am grateful for the opportunity to have touched so many lives, and to have each and every one of them in my life.

Everything you have received from me, we owe to her.” —Said by Rabbi Akiva about his wife 

I truly am blessed to be married to my soulmate, Karen Rosenberg, and to have three amazing sons, and four fantastic grandchildren. In my spare time I paint, kayak, struggle with golf, and take long walks with my personal trainer, my dog Mocha.   

Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg is celebrating 50 years as a Reform rabbi. We look forward to celebrating him and all of the CCAR’s 50-year rabbis when we come together at CCAR Convention 2024.