Kenneth Rosenberg, Former Jewish Publishing Group President and Lawyer, Dies at 72

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Kenneth Rosenberg
(Photo by Shelley Kapnek Rosenberg)

Kenneth Ira Rosenberg, a lawyer for many decades and a former president of the Jewish Publishing Group, one of several positions of distinction he held within the Philadelphia Jewish community, died on May 31 of pancreatic cancer. He was 72.

One of his best qualities, according to his wife, Shelley Kapnek Rosenberg, was that “he listened to his mother.” It was his mother, Roslyn Busch Rosenberg, who convinced him to go to law school.

Rosenberg graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1964, then got a degree in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was vice president of Zeta Beta Tau and headed the school’s tour guides. After a year working for Fidelity Bank, which sent him on a long-remembered trip to London for six weeks, he found himself at a crossroads.

For his mother, there was a clear path: law school. Rosenberg happily obliged, and got his degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Her advice wasn’t restricted to his professional life. It was with some light chicanery that she was able to conspire with Shelley Kapnek’s mother to set the two of them up in the summer of 1970.

Shelley, home after her junior year at Penn State, was a bit bored, and her mother thought she should meet some- one — specifically, Ken Rosenberg, her good friend’s nephew. Shelley’s mother reached out to Ken’s mother and told her that her daughter had lost contact with most of her Cheltenham friends. Would her son happen to know anyone who she might meet up with? Ken Rosenberg took the hint, and asked his future wife out on a date after a long phone call. They were married Aug. 22, 1971.

After graduating from law school in 1972, Ken Rosenberg practiced commercial real estate law at Mesirov Gelman Jaffe Cramer & Jamieson, which later merged with Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, where he became a partner and chair of the real estate department. He was known for his fidelity to “win-win” deals, and would often drive past buildings he had helped shepherd to reality and say, “I did that deal!” He loved mentoring young lawyers.

He served as president of the Jewish Publishing Group from 1998 to 2001, with the Jewish Exponent under his purview. He also was vice chairman of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, an officer of the Jewish Community Relations Council and the first chairman of the Jewish Information & Referral Service.

He and his wife were also one of six founding families of Or Hadash.

Though he once told his wife he never wanted to retire, he found that he quite enjoyed it. For 10 years, Ken Rosenberg was a docent at the Philadelphia Zoo, joking around with children, often making use of a bear claw for a “high paw.”

The Rosenbergs were prodigious travelers. Over the course of their marriage, they visited all seven continents and more than 50 countries, many after retirement. From China to Antarctica to road trips across America, they were a travel team; even in Morocco, where Shelley had to be cajoled into sleeping in a desert tent, they found their way to fun. As a travel partner, Shelley said, he was wonderful.

“We just enjoyed sitting next to each other in the car and being together,” she said.

Ken Rosenberg is survived by his children, Michael Wayne Rosenberg and Rabbi Jessica Faith Rosenberg; granddaughter Arianna Faith Rosenberg; sister Carol (Stuart) Fisher; brother Richard (Anne) Rosenberg; and sister-in-law Hilary (P. Todd) Alexander.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society.

[email protected]; 215-832-0740

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