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Staff Profile: Tal Rosen

Staff Profile: Tal Rosen

Spertus Institute Welcomes Tal Rosen as Director
of the new Center for Jewish Leadership

Tal RosenSpertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership is pleased to announce the appointment of Tal Rosen as Director of the Institute’s Center for Jewish Leadership. In this position, he will promote effective Jewish leadership through programs that strengthen the strategic agility of Jewish professionals and volunteers, in Chicago and beyond. He will also take on the management of Spertus Institute’s acclaimed Master of Arts in Jewish Professional Studies, now serving students in several US cities and in Canada and Israel.

Rosen comes to Spertus with hands-on experience and field-tested insight into what fosters innovation in the Jewish communal sector. “If our community wants to inspire innovation, our organizations must create conditions that foster creativity for their employees and volunteers. The Center for Jewish Leadership is here to help these values take root, and I am honored to have been brought to Spertus to help bring this new initiative to fruition.”

Rosen is no stranger to the search for a perfect solution. As a chemistry student at Dickinson College, a small liberal arts college twenty miles west of his hometown of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Rosen spent countless hours in the lab experimenting with ingredients and solvents. But it was his lack of skills behind the Bunsen burner that drove Rosen to switch his major to Jewish studies, a move that would propel him halfway across the United States, then to Israel, and eventually, to Spertus Institute’s front door.

Rosen seems to have been groomed to serve in this newly created position. As a graduate student in rabbinic studies at Hebrew Union College, he traveled to Israel to study Jewish texts and strengthen his ties to the Jewish community. After relocating back to the United States, he pursued an MBA at Ohio’s Miami University with plans to work in marketing. Those plans, however, were soon disrupted.

“I was studying abroad in China,” said Rosen, “and one day, out of the blue, I got a call from the Miami University Hillel. They told me they were looking for somebody to help them restructure their organization.”

That offer came just a week before Rosen was supposed to take a job at an upscale advertising firm in Ohio. He faced a difficult decision: follow his plans to become a business-minded marketer, or return to his calling as a Jewish leader. He went with his heart. “I called that marketing firm the next day to tell them I wasn’t coming in,” said Rosen.

As the Executive Director of the Miami University Hillel, Rosen helped create a pluralistic, welcoming, and inclusive environment for the university’s more than 1,000 Jewish undergraduate and graduate students. After a year, Rosen was hooked on Jewish communal service. When the Executive Director position opened at KAM Isaiah Israel in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, he and his wife, then a newly-minted rabbi, enthusiastically moved to Chicago.

At KAM, Chicago oldest synagogue, Rosen refined his sense of Jewish leadership, becoming exposed to issues and initiatives he feels are critical to the future success of the Jewish community. For example, in addition to the tasks one normally associates with the Executive Director of an urban synagogue, he was responsible for overseeing the synagogue’s micro-farm program, small plots of land the congregation uses to grow fresh produce for the community, and to teach urban agriculture and sustainability.

Rosen has also been instrumental in bringing ecological awareness to the Jewish community at large. As an active member of Hazon, a Jewish group dedicated to principles of sustainability, Rosen works to raise awareness of the fact that sustainability is a trademark of Jewish ethics. He shares this philosophy with his new employer, whose award-winning building is powered by 100% renewable energy.

“Agriculture and environmental sustainability are parts of our tradition and Jewish communities should be leaders in this field,” said Rosen.

As Director of the Center for Jewish Leadership, Rosen will no doubt have all kinds of sustainability on his mind. By offering programs, workshops, seminars, and master classes on issues concerning Jewish innovation and entrepreneurship, the CJL is designed to be a resource for tomorrow’s Jewish leaders. Though his chemistry studies are long behind him, he still demonstrates a knack for combining ingredients to create powerful reactions.

“Leadership, philanthropy, innovation, and respect for our community — these are part of the collage that will make up the future of our Jewish community,” says Rosen. “We’re moving toward an exciting future, and we have to be open-minded and forward-thinking to embrace that new reality. The Center for Jewish Leadership is going help get us there.”

Rosen and his wife, Rabbi Anna Levin Rosen — Rabbi and Director of Jewish Student Life at The University of Chicago — live in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood with their children Joshua, age 2, and Ellie, 12 weeks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014