This year’s Doris and Leonard H. Rudolph Jewish Communal Professional Award went to Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum, principal of Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s annual meeting.
Rosenblum has led the Grade 1 through 11 Yeshiva Boys School for more than 25 years. Additionally his responsibilities include professional development and teacher training for the Yeshiva Girls School. Under his tenure, the school has grown and expanded in enrollment, facilities and location, and earned the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon School of Excellence status.
What was originally a group of five students in a small building on Fifth Avenue moved to shared facilities with two local congregations and finally to the current location, which was expanded more than 14 years ago. The total enrollment now numbers more than 400 students.
Among his school’s accomplishments, Rosenblum emphasized professional development for Yeshiva teachers, leadership development for its administrators, the hiring of outstanding, qualified teachers and collaboration and teamwork in the care of students.
He said that developing good character traits, ahavat yisrael — love of a fellow Jew — and respect for all people are major components of the school’s Jewish educational philosophy and practice. He pointed to an ongoing project to address and minimize bullying as an example of that approach.
All 11 of the Rosenblum children have gone to Yeshiva Schools; two of his grandchildren are current students. He pointed out that in the last two years alone 25 families have moved to Pittsburgh, specifically for Jewish education at Yeshiva.
Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld, dean of Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, lauded both the academic accomplishments of Rosenblum as well as the role model he provides.
“Rabbi Rosenblum is well aware of the challenges in educating Jewish children, those that have always existed and those that are more difficult today,” said Rosenfeld.
“What makes him so successful in everything he does is the kindness and empathy with which he deals with every person.”
Rosenblum identified his parents, veteran Yeshiva teachers Rabbi Ephraim and Miriam Rosenblum, as his role models.
“They have never lost their passion for Jewish education,” he said, adding that his “extremely supportive” wife, Chani Rosenblum, has been crucial to his accomplishments.
But Rosenblum stressed that for him, education is not just a job or a career; it is a calling.
He moved to Pittsburgh at the behest of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, he said, and the late leader’s vision and guidance continue to drive him today.
“There is no greater joy in life than being certain about what you are doing,” said Rosenblum, quoting a Talmudic teaching. Such certainty “allows me to focus all my energy on what I am doing, with joy.”
Simone Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.