Congregation Adath Israel in Merion Station, welcomed its new Rabbi Ariella Rosen on July 22.
The energy was electric and positive vibes were flowing as senior citizens, moms, dads and children chowed on pizza and ice cream, schmoozed and kids jumped on the moon bounce as Congregation Adath Israel in Merion Station, welcomed its new Rabbi Ariella Rosen on July 22.
Rosen, 29, of West Hartford, Conn., had just started at the temple three days ago and was overwhelmed by the support of the congregants and the community. Not only was she new to the shul, but she was just ordained two months ago at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. She knew this synagogue was the right fit.
“This was just really a wonderful place,” Rosen said. “I saw a lot of potential for really exciting things.”
While a student, she served as the rabbinic intern at the Orangetown Jewish Center, served as the student representative on JTS' Committee on Gender and Sexuality and was a participant in the Rabbis Without Borders fellowship, which brings together rabbinical students from across the denominational spectrum for study, dialogue and innovation.
During her year of rabbinic study in Israel, Rosen expanded on her learning outside the classroom through the Shalom Hartman Institute, and as a mentor-coach for Ultimate Peace, building bridges between Jewish and Arab youth through Ultimate Frisbee. She also served as a peer group facilitator for Encounter, supporting Jewish participants in processing their time spent in Palestinian communities.
She said the biggest adjustment is getting used to life in Philly. With a warm bubbly personality, she has already bonded with numerous parents and is a perfect match for Rabbi Eric Yanoff, she said.
“I’m still getting my bearings, but it seems lovely,” Rosen said.
Yanoff, who is a native of north Philly, served Congregation Shaarey Zedek in West Bloomfield, Mich., from 2004 to 2010. When the opportunity came to return home, he couldn’t pass it up, he said. After his first round interview five years ago, he expressed his excitement to his wife Dava.
“These are good people and we can really make a home here,” he said. “Now we are thrilled to welcome Rabbi Rosen and have her begin her rabbinical career here.”
As membership increased to 700 people, the need for a second rabbi arose, he said.
“Not only were we growing in numbers, but our activities and programs increased in what we wanted to offer,” Yanoff said. “In order to provide what we wanted, we needed another rabbi.”
Since he began preparing services, sermons and programs with Rosen, the two have meshed perfectly, he said. She is warm and creative and her energetic personality will have a positive impact on the shul, he said. Yanoff said they have compatible styles, which will make each other’s ideas better.
“There was this real strong connection,” he said. “I think we’re going to broaden who we reach and how we reach them.”
Amanda Goldberg, of Merion, has been a member of the temple for 12 years and is the vice president of membership and marketing. Her three children, Julia, 15, Libby, 12 and Marigold, 9, enjoy the welcoming atmosphere at the shul, she said. Goldberg praised Yanoff for his hard work and said he has made it a second home for many people.
With new Executive Director Lauren Marks-Cabana and a new rabbi, 2015 is going to be a tremendous year for the shul, she said.
“Everyone is really excited,” Goldberg said. “Everybody knew there was no choice to get a second rabbi since Rabbi Yanoff worked so hard that he didn’t smile anymore. That is not his personality and we needed him to come back.”
Sonya Cooper, who has 8-year-old twins, Lilly and Mia and a 2-year-old son, Zach, live in Center City and joined the shul four years ago. The kids go to Hebrew school and they try to attend Shabbat services as often as possible.
Cooper met Rosen when she led a children’s service in the spring during her interview process. The kids said she made it fun and they liked that she was young.
“One of the things I like about this place is how welcome the kids are,” Cooper said. “Someone who has time for the kids is great.”