By Stacey Dresner
WESTFIELD – Rabbi Dawn Rose is the new spiritual leader of Congregation Ahavas Achim in Westfield. She succeeds Cantor Colman Reaboi who is now at Congregation Agudath Achim in Marlborough.
Rabbi Rose received her PhD in Jewish Philosophy from the Jewish Theological Seminary and ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion. She will begin her new part-time post in Westfield for the High Holidays.
While she says she considers herself semi-retired, when she saw the job at Ahavath Achim, she said she thought it “sounded so wonderful and just the right size.”
Rose is originally from Northern California. While raised Baptist, she did have Jewish roots – a Jewish great-grandfather. She studied English Literature at the University of California at Berkley, before turning her attention to music in San Francisco.
“At the time AIDS began, I was in San Francisco and doing a lot of singing of classical music, so I knew a lot of gay tenors, and they started dying from AIDS. I saw the whole city start to change around the plague and I knew that I needed to change too,” she said. “I converted to Judaism which seemed to be the right path for me. And the next day decided that I was going to become a rabbi.”
Rabbi Rose taught at JTS and then served as director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College’s Center for Jewish Ethics before taking the pulpit at a few small congregations.
Her most recent post was at Temple Emanuel of the Merrimack Valley in Lowell where she served for seven years. After leaving Temple Emanuel, she taught for four years at Rockdale Recovery High School in Worcester.
Rabbi Lowell lives with her two college-aged daughters, Paris and Toni, in Lowell, where she will continue to live, commuting to Westfield.
“I am gratified and delighted to become the spiritual leader of Ahavas Achim and look forward to a great year with this congregation,” she said.