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Rabbi Carnie Rose


Former Winnipegger Rabbi Carnie Rose On Synagogue Affiliation, Inclusion and on Possible Merger of Wininpeg Synagogues

by Rhonda J. Prepes, November 28, 2013

The Winnipeg Jewish Review has recently interviewed former Winnipegger Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose, the son of Rabbi Neal and Carol Rose  on the subject of  Jewish engagment,creating a welcoming synagogue atmosphere., and on the notion of merging synagogues

In a November 6, 2013 article in the Jewish Light, Jews and affiliation: Where do we go from here? by David Baugher, , Rose expands on one idea his congregation is using to attract new members to his Congregation B’nai Amoona in St. Louis, MO.

His institution has worked hard to create connections and engagement through what he calls “radical inclusivity.” The congregation was even honored by the Ruderman Foundation recently for its work in including the disabled in synagogue life.

But the concept of inclusiveness goes far beyond that. Even non-Jews are welcome to come to synagogue classes and events.

“You have to find ways to tailor-make the experience for the individual,” he said. “Sometimes that’s easier and sometimes it is harder but we try to meet people in both physical and psycho-spiritual ways, where they are at.”

Rose, who is married with  four children, grew up in Winnipeg’s North End and is a graduate of Joseph Wolinsky Collegiate, The University of Winnipeg, The University of Judaism (LA), The Jewish Theological Seminary (NY), and has received numerous certificates for specialized training in the fields of Non Profit Management (Kellogg Business School), and Educational Innovation (The Hebrew University). He was recently named a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and has participated in some of the most innovative Rabbinic initiatives including STAR Rabbis and Rabbis Without border. He served congregations in Columbus (Ohio), Tokyo (Japan), Long Island (New York) and for the last 8 years, he has held the Senior Rabbinic Chair at Congregation B’nai Amoona in St. Louis, MO.

B’nai Amoona is a "full service Shul" as it has an early childhood centre, a supplemental school (K – grade 12), an adult education institute, an internet based college student institute, a day school (which is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the synagogue) and sits on 33 acres with nature trails, basketball courts, baseball diamonds, and an outdoor pavilion. They offer a summer camping program which is mission based - emphasizing Hebrew, Judaics, Teffilah and Jewish Ethical Living).

“Most Jewish communities around the world are experiencing a reduction in affiliation rates. Our congregation had a drop off in affiliation after the retirement of the Senior Rabbi who was here for over 40 years. When Rabbi Lipnick was preparing to retire - in the late-eighties - there were about 900 families. Before I came here 8 years ago, we had approximately 650 families. Now we are about 800 family units,” said Rabbi Rose.

“Thankfully, through hard work and dedication on the part of lay and professional team, we have been able to buck the trend”.

“There were two other Conservative Shuls here in town that recently merged. Some folks were destabilized by that merger, so they choose to come to us or join other congregations. Surely others will be drawn to the new entity which is emerging. Our job is to do our best to lovingly integrate our new comers”.

“We are also getting a good number of people coming to us from the Reform Movement, which is the largest movement in the U.S. They seem to be seeking a ‘thicker, more embodied’ Jewish experience”.

“Everyone is looking for the one right answer to the dilemma of dwindling membership. But the fact is that there is not just one right answer. We need 21st century solutions that speak existentially to 21st century people. That will mean variety and choice. We need multiple portals of entry, which is challenging because lower affiliations rates mean less available dollars for the creation of creative endeavors. It’s the old chicken and egg dilemma”.

On the topic of the possible merger of his home town’s Congregation Etz Chayim and Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, Rabbi Carnie Rose had this to say, “I know very little about the specifics and it’s been too long since I visited Winnipeg, but in general, I think the questions that need to get asked before any merger happens include: Is this about forward thinking or is it a defense mechanism? Is the merger a death of one or two institutions, or is the birth of a new, stronger, energized community? Will the community actually lose more people out of dissatisfaction or will it create long term viability and a net sum gain?”

“No doubt that merger often means the end of the unique cultures, styles, and nuances that were once present. Call me nostalgic, but I am old enough remember how beautiful it was to visit – in one Shabbes morning - the very different worlds of B’nai Abraham, Beth Israel and the Rosh Pina. A merger does not necessarily always guarantee success and strength. It sometimes indicates necessity.”

“There is not ONE magic solution for increasing affiliation rates. Merger and consolidation is surely one approach. But here’s a radical idea. Maybe what we really need is to divide ourselves into much smaller entities. Maybe there should be four niche synagogues with much smaller infrastructures. Maybe one Rabbi could be responsible for four synagogues and rotate between them and train lay people to do services when the Rabbi is not there? Maybe our salvation is in greater diversity?” suggested Rabbi Rose.

“This is the time for innovation, creativity and out of the box thinking. This has been the hallmark of the Jewish People from time immemorial. It’s time to use our Yiddishe Kops to come up with solutions that meet our current challenges. I for one have unending faith in the Jewish People’s eternity and perpetuity – in Winnipeg and around the world”.



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