We received the sad news this week that Rabbi Herbert Rose died in Florida. Rabbi Rose came on the scene in Boulder just as it was emerging as a serious Jewish community in its own right; and, in fact, Rabbi Rose played a major role in that emergence.
Through certainly not a Reb Zalman type or someone who fit the probably inaccurate stereotypes of Boulder, Rabbi Rose brought a certain intellectual heft and iconoclastic Reform background to his position at Har HaShem. For one thing, he was an unabashed Zionist, hardly a point of notice today, but a generation ago his love of the Hebrew language, his out-in-front advocacy for Israel and his knowledge of the history of the Zionist movement stood out in Reform circles.
For another thing, Rabbi Rose was not afraid of Jewish ritual — now, a fairly standard characteristic of Reform temples, but 30 years ago an eye-opener.
He came to Har HaShem with considerable rabbinic and intellectual experience already under his belt and served as a draw in this university town for people looking for someone who could speak intelligently about Jewish life and Jewish thought.
He also understood the importance of bridging what was once the chasm between Boulder and Denver Jewry. He knew that even as Boulder Jewry was “its own animal,” Boulder could flourish if it were less isolated from Denver. By his presence at many events in Denver, Rabbi Rose let it be known that the two Jewish communities were part of a larger whole — again, a contribution not readily grasped now precisely because it is taken for granted.
Active in interfaith relations, active in outreach to the “unchurched” (as the Reform movement called it then), Rabbi Rose left his mark — hardly least, on his lovely family, including his daughter Eve, who was a very able IJN intern. To his family, and in consideration of his memory, his engaging intellect and his well meaning and ever present ahavas Yisrael, we extend our condolences over this difficult and irreplaceable loss.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News