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Local Rabbi remembered as teacher, pillar of community

Posted at 6:22 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 19:41:03-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nueces County’s latest COVID-19 related death has been described as a pillar of the community after Rabbi Kenneth Roseman recently lost his battle with the Coronavirus.

Several tributes appeared on social media as people found out about Rabbi Roseman’s passing from the Coronavirus. Those who knew him best say his loss is not only devastating for Corpus Christi’s Jewish community, but for the city as a whole.

Roseman came to Corpus Christi from Dallas in 2002 after long-time friend Sam Susser convinced him to move south to what was then Temple Beth El.

“I said “how about coming to Corpus Christi?”. We’re looking for a rabbi,” said Susser. “You can fill in and enjoy Corpus until we find somebody else.”

Roseman never left. Instead, he helped merge two synagogues into what is now Congregation Beth Israel. He also got involved with the community, serving on several boards, including the Art Museum of South Texas, the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra, and the CHRISTUS Spohn Foundation.

“He was a stakeholder, he was not a placeholder,” said Karen Burton. “He was involved, he asked a thousand questions, he brought his faith to the table.”

Burton served with Roseman on the Spohn Foundation board. She even convinced her close friend to play Santa Claus for her Christmas party.

“My mother always thought it was the most wonderful, ecumenical thing that a Jewish Rabbi would put on a Santa Claus suit on Christmas Eve and share a holiday,” said Burton.

Roseman’s greatest passion was teaching. He taught at Southern Methodist University and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Two years ago, he released a lecture series on the History of American Jews on YouTube.

“He was somebody who I could learn from,” said Rabbi Ilan Emanuel of Congregation Beth Israel. “He obviously had an abundance of knowledge about Judaism.”

Roseman passed away early Sunday at CHRISTUS Spohn Shoreline Hospital after a four-week battle with the Coronavirus. His widow, Phyllis, says she’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of emotion.

“I have probably had a hundred emails today,” said Phyllis Roseman. “But one of them came from a colleague, and it said “Ken made the world a better place.”

The community will celebrate Rabbi Roseman at a memorial service sometime this summer, once it’s deemed safe to gather to do so.