Kenneth D. Roseman and
Captain in Cambodia, 1957
Black and white photograph
of Kenneth D. Roseman
Oberlin College Football
Graduation Hebrew Union
Color portrait of
Kenneth D. Roseman.
Kenneth D. Roseman
speaking at HUC in 2016
About the Collection
Holding library: Bridwell Library
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Born in Washington, D. C., Kenneth D. Roseman (1939-2020) was a bit of a vagabond, living in Washington, Switzerland, Greece, Cambodia and France. His father was an American diplomat who specialized in international projects of human assistance. Through his many travels as a child, Rabbi Roseman was able to develop a unique view of the world as a whole. His many travels during his youth helped shape his vision and ideology of a life of service, giving, scholarly practice and open-mindedness.
During his service in the U.S. Army, the young Ken traveled to Cambodia as part of the U.S. Mission to Cambodia. Following his service he attended Oberlin College. While in college, he was mentored by the late Rabbi Balfour Brickner who was a leading Reform rabbi and influenced his choice of a rabbinic career. Roseman graduated with honors and was nominated by the faculty for a Rhodes Scholarship. While this was a very prestigious honor, he elected to attend the seminary at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, where he graduated and was ordained in 1966.
Rabbi Roseman remained at HUC-JIR as a member of the faculty, earning his Ph.D. in American-Jewish history and serving as Acting Dean and Dean for eight years. In 1974, he became Director of the Institute for Jewish Life in NYC. In 1976, the Rosemans packed their bags and headed to Temple Beth El in Madison, WI, where he would serve as the rabbi from 1976 to 1985.
In 1985, the cowbells were ringing, as was warmer weather. The family headed south to Dallas, TX, where Temple Shalom was waiting to welcome its new Senior Rabbi. For seventeen years, he led Temple Shalom to unprecedented growth and programmatic richness. In 2002, he became the first Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Shalom.
Rabbi Roseman tried to retire in 2002, but failed. Instead, he and Phyllis moved to Corpus Christi, where he accepted a position of congregational leadership. He oversaw the merger of Temple Beth El and B’nai Israel Synagogue and led the new Congregation Beth Israel until his second and now effective retirement in 2014. In Corpus Christi, he also served as a major community leader, a public speaker, and taught history at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. He served as Chairman of the Board of the Art Museum of South Texas and on the Foundation Board of Christus Health System.
Among his many accomplishments are his four children and eleven grandchildren. In addition, Rabbi Roseman received the Simon Lazarus Prize for Academic Achievement, the Farband Prize in Hebrew and the B’nai Zion Prize in Hebrew from HUC-JIR. Oberlin College awarded Roseman the James K. Newton Prize in Far Eastern History and the Life Prize in American History. More recently, the Texas Historical Commission awarded him the Parmelee Prize for his book, Lone Stars of David: Jews of Texas.
Rabbi Roseman was a prolific author and educator. His Jewish history books for adolescents have received prestigious prizes and are used throughout the Reform Jewish movement. His most recent book, Of Tribes and Tribulations, includes the following provocative challenge:
"While there were certainly challenges within the synagogue, they were not broad or varied enough to meet my desire to stretch my horizons….the problem was how to meet the legitimate expectations of the congregation and my own drive to succeed in my chosen profession, yet at the same time develop the broader interests, contacts and perspectives that would fulfill other dimensions of my life."
The biography courtesy of Rabbi Kenneth D. Roseman. The photographs courtesy of the Roseman family. For more information about the Kenneth D. Roseman Collection, please contact Bridwell Library Special Collections.
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