Anthony Glaros | Special to WJW
In the days following Rosh Hashanah, Rabbi Eric Rosin arrived as the interim rabbi at Kol Shalom in Rockville. Without missing a beat, he began shaping connections with a Conservative community following the surprise departure of Rabbi Gil Steinlauf in June.
The object of an interim rabbi, unlike a permanent rabbi, is not to mold the congregation “into his or her image,” said Rosin, 55. “It’s simply to help bring it into the next period in its history.”
Rosin said that with his term at Kol Shalom to end next June, he finds himself “constantly making judgment calls” in order to help promote “what is healthiest for the community, what the community needs most.”
“I’m getting to know everyone,” he said, the enthusiasm in his voice rising. “There’s a degree of affiliation and relationship. We know that our tradition doesn’t exist only on Saturday morning. It exists in our homes. It exists in our world. It’s not an either-or. It’s a both-and.”
Kol Shalom traces its beginnings to the fall of 2001, when 15 families established a new congregation in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Rabbi Jonathan Maltzman led the congregation until his retirement in 2019. Steinlauf followed as the second rabbi.
Now comes Rosin, distinguished by his smart attire and the familiar presence of a bowtie. That trademark accessory reaches as far back as his teenage years and his membership on the high school swim team. On days when a swim meet was scheduled, “we had to wear a coat and tie,” he said. Media icons whose brands include bow ties, for example George Will and Tucker Carlson, prompted Rosin to quip, “I don’t want to plant in people’s minds that they’re my role models!”
Rosin grew up in a Reform home in Royal Oak, Mich., outside Detroit. His wife, Jenifer Blub, is a psychoanalyst. The couple’s son, Sam, is 6 years old.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Judaic Studies from Yale, Rosin continued his training at the University of Southern California Law School, where he simultaneously completed a law degree and a master’s in communications management.
Rosin spent four years working as an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles. While the job was in the center of the fiercely competitive world of show business, he wasn’t caught up in the swirl. “Even when there were famous names on the top of a contract,” he remarked, “it was not particularly fulfilling.”
Rosin enjoyed certain aspects of law, but there were limits to a brutal schedule of 80-hour work weeks, highlighted by being responsible for wading through a growing mountain of briefs and depositions that inhabited his desk.
The tipping point resulted in Rosin leaving the practice of law and enrolling in American Jewish University’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. Looking back, Rosin said it required time to prepare himself for the next chapter. “There was no revelation. I accepted what I found most compelling.”
Now he aims to make Jewish thought compelling to his congregation, wherever he may be working.
When crafting his sermons, Rosin explained, he seeks to find words that transfer concepts that exist in the modern world.
“I’m not a political scientist. My role has to be to take what people are thinking about and place it in a frame that fits our tradition.”
In one recent sermon, bow tie ready for yet another close-up, he set the stage for deeper meditation this way: “There really are only two kinds of people: introverts and extroverts. Or people who tear the challah or cut the challah. Or those who agree with us. Or there are those who are just wrong.”
In his new assignment, amid the swirl of enriching events like high holidays, baby namings and weddings, Rosin said he’s relishing the contributions he can make for as long as he serves at Kol Shalom. “I’ll help the transition to the next rabbi.”
Examined through a wider lens, Rosin said when considering the merits of two bodies of law, spiritual and temporal, there is one, in his mind, that occupies a loftier perch. “I find all the rabbinic literature much more imaginative, more interesting, than all of the legal codes.”
Rosin reaffirmed his positivity about his current posting. “I feel very fortunate to be able to serve this community and appreciate their warmth. I appreciate their thoughtfulness and I look forward to spending the year here.”