Rosenthal to retire as Tifereth Israel’s rabbi


Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal

SAN DIEGO — Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal, spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue, has announced he will retire from that position on March 5, 2017, which with accumulated vacation days, will conclude his tenure officially on July 31, 2017.  In all, he will have served San Diego’s oldest Conservative congregation for 29 years.

He said his wife Judy and he had “been thinking about the best time for me to retire for a couple of years.  While I love working with the congregation and community, there are other opportunities we want to enjoy while we are young and healthy, especially spending more time with our growing family.”  The Rosenthals have three grown children, and recently became grandparents.

The rabbi said he intends to remain a member of the congregation, which was founded in 1905.  He is only the third rabbi to serve Tifereth Israel in the post-World War II era, when the congregation switched from the Orthodox to a Conservative movement.  His predecessors were Rabbis Monroe Levens and Aaron S. Gold.

Rosenthal also said that “a new rabbi will come with fresh ideas, perspectives and skills to enrich, enhance and grow the synagogue.  Your new rabbi, whomever he or she is, will be fortunate to become the spiritual leader of a congregation that has a lively warm and loving membership, Board, and staff and a distinguished history.”

Jerry Hermes, the president of the congregation, noted in a separate letter that Rosenthal “has worked many hard long hours, often doing double-duty as our Abraham Ratner Torah School Director, and has earned the opportunity to down-shift that comes with retirement.”

Hermes said the board will now focus on hiring a new Torah School director and will begin a process for choosing a replacement for Rosenthal as spiritual leader.  Under Michael Mantell, PhD, who serves as Tifereth Israel’s Religious Life Vice President, the congregation will decide what qualities they want in a rabbi and then form a search committee.

Asked to describe the process, Mantell said: “First, I’m exploring how best to establish the nature of the search criteria, and have researched what other synagogues and the Rabbinical Assembly suggest are proper ways to identify what our congregation wants in a new Rabbi.  Then, I’ll be organizing a search committee to work together using our specified criteria to identify a number of candidates that we’ll have an opportunity to get to know before coming to a decision on a new spiritual leader and teacher for our Synagogue.”

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  He may be contacted via [email protected] . Columns by Rabbi Rosenthal and Michael Mantell both appear in this publication.

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