About Kopul/Kopel Rosen (Rozrazowsky)
Rabbi Dr. Yaacov Kopul Rosen was born in London in 1913. He trained for the rabbinate in Etz Chaim Yeshiva in London, and in Mir Yeshiva in Lithuania. He was the rabbi of the Higher Crumpsall Synagogue in Manchester from 1938 until 1942. He became the Communal Rabbi of Glasgow in 1942 and in 1944 he was appointed the Principal Rabbi of the Federation of Synagogues in London.
In 1948, Kopul Rosen decided to leave the rabbinate to devote himself to the promotion of Jewish education. He and his wife, Bella, founded Carmel College.
Rabbi Dr. Jeremy Rosen, Kopul Rosen's firstborn, writes of his father:
He was intensely devoted to Torah as a way of life and believed that without study, immersing oneself in the Talmud and mysticism, one would have a rather limited Jewish religious life, based on frail foundations.
My father was neither obscurantist nor fundamentalist. He was very interested in Western culture, literature, history, art and science and encouraged us as kids to read as much and as widely as possible (of course we preferred playing football). He had an enquiring mind. He was open to all new ideas and received intellectual challenges with relish. He was committed above all else to living a Jewish life based on traditional values, norms and laws.
His view of the authentic Jew was of someone as at home in the secular world as in the Jewish, as at ease in the Talmud as in Shakespeare. Throughout his life he studied Torah and he went to the theatre, the opera and painted (he also played cricket, soccer and was a champion swimmer).
Religion for him was an elevating experience designed to improve one’s relationship with other humans as well as with God. He conveyed a sense of fun and grandeur, I know he was seriously disillusioned with institutional religion. That was why he resigned from the rabbinate and withdrew to the countryside to his beloved Carmel College.
Kopul Rosen was in the process of setting up a Carmel College in Israel, when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He died of the illness in early 1962, at the age of 49, leaving behind his wife, three sons, and a baby daughter (Angela Fay (Ayellet) Gillis (nee Rosen), born January 1959).
In 1979, Rabbi Rosen's second son, Rabbi Dr. Michael (Mickey) Rosen, founded the Jewish educational organization, Yakar, in memory of his father. (YaKaR is an acronym for Yaacov Kopul Rosen.) The stated goal of Yakar is to continue Kopul Rosen's ideals "of a Judaism based on knowledge of Torah, learning and vibrant spirituality that would at the same time be universal, non-denominational, tolerant and open to ideas and intellectual curiosity."
The first Yakar center was founded in Stanmore and moved to Hendon in North-West London. Michael Rosen and his wife, Gilla, later established the main center in Jerusalem, with another branch recently created in Tel Aviv. Rabbi Michael Rosen died on December 8, 2008 in Jerusalem.
Kopul Rosen's youngest son, Rabbi Prof. David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland and Rabbi of the largest Jewish congregation in South Africa, lives in Jerusalem and is currently President of the International Jewish Committee that represents World Jewry to other world religions and is International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee.
Works by Kopul Rosen
- Dear David
- Rabbi Israel Salanter and the Musar movement
- The future of the Federation of Synagogues
- An open letter to a perplexed parent