Yakar founder Mickey Rosen dies

Founder of popular liberal Orthodox shuls and educational centers "carried out what he dreamt."

yakar 88 (photo credit: )
yakar 88
(photo credit: )
Rabbi Michael "Mickey" Rosen, founder of a popular chain of liberal Orthodox synagogues and educational centers, died Sunday night from injuries sustained three weeks ago in a fall. He had been fighting an illness for some time. Yakar, an acronym for Rosen's father, Rabbi Ya'acov Kopul Rosen, a British educator who died young, blended unique musical prayer services with a strong commitment to social action. The center was established first in Britain and later copied, first in Jerusalem in 1992 and later in Tel Aviv, and was a major attraction for hundreds of Diaspora Jews from English speaking countries. Rosen, who was ordained in 1973, served as a communal rabbi in Britain. He earned a doctorate from London University in 1994, according to a brief biography on the Yakar Web Site. He was the author of The Quest for Authenticity, a book about the hassidic master Rabbi Simcha Bunim Bonhart of Peshischa (1765-1827) one of the main leaders of Polish Hassidism. Rosen's sister-in-law, Sharon Rosen, said that he was a very exceptional person who "carried out on the ground what he dreamt." Sharon recalled how Mickey first established Yakar in Britain as "a special place that brought new tunes and a strong sense of community". "He would bring speakers that you would normally not find at Orthodox Jewish venues, such as Desmond Tutu. He was very sensitive to the suffering of others and through his panels and speakers addressed the injustices done to the Palestinian people," she said. Rosen's wife Gila gave the only eulogy for her husband at the funeral, which was attended by hundreds. Gila told the crowd that came to pay last respects that her husband did not like eulogies. Sharon Rosen, who is married to Mickey Rosen's brother, Rabbi David Rosen, Director of the American Jewish Committee's Department for Interreligious Affairs, said the reason for the Rosen family's aversion to eulogies was because "words cannot capture the essence of the person and they limit the person." Anne Sassoon-Pogrund, a curator of art exhibitions at Yakar, said that eulogies were replaced with singing of Shlomo Carlebach tunes. "During the funeral procession his six children stopped and sang a song," recalled Sassoon-Pogrund. "It was so touching." Sassoon-Pogrund said that music was central to Rosen's life. "He often played music while he worked in the synagogue. He would listen to Church Chorals or a Brahms Requiem. He didn't listen to the words. He liked the music." Sassoon-Pogrund said that Rosen "opened himself to diverse ideas." She told how Rosen worked with her husband Benjamin Pogrund on encouraging dialogue with Palestinians. She added that while Rosen had been ill for some time, he had hidden his suffering from his acquaintances. "He lived his life to its fullest." Rosen was laid to rest in Jerusalem's Har Hamenuchot Cemetery Monday.