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Meet Past President Allen Rosenzweig

Meet Past President Allen Rosenzweig

By Mia Robinson

The Building Bridges Program connects the Founders, Past Presidents and longstanding members of Congregation Beth David. My name is Mia Robinson and I have been at Congregation Beth David my whole life. 

I had the opportunity to FaceTime with Allen Rosenzweig, who has been a member of Beth David since the 1970’s. He has watched the congregation grow from 60 families back in the day to the current membership of 500+ families. 

Allen Rosenzweig was born and raised in Queens, New York. His family participated in many synagogue volunteer activities.  Allen’s dad served for a time as chairman of the board (similar to president at CBD). The family lived within walking distance of their synagogue and attended services and high holy days fairly regularly. He attended Hebrew school and became a Bar Mitzvah at the Hillcrest Jewish Center on May 8, 1958. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School and then the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Allen received his degree in electrical engineering and was working as an electrical engineering manager on Long Island when asked to join a startup company in New Jersey. When the company opened an office in California, Allen moved with his wife, Susan and his daughter across the country to continue his work and live someplace new. They began in lovely Cupertino and then to their house in Saratoga. A second daughter soon joined the family.

When Allen and his family arrived in California, they noticed that the Jewish life here was significantly less than it was in New York. Allen remembers stumbling upon Congregation Beth David when they attended their Purim carnival. He and wife Susan saw what friendly and welcoming people belonged. At the time, Beth David had only 60 families and their facility was a small house on Stelling Road. The garage of the house was used for services while other rooms were used as classrooms for the Hebrew school and the office. The congregation didn’t have a permanent rabbi and the ark was totally makeshift. Full of good ideas, Allen suggested that they order some wood and build a new Bima for the tiny sanctuary. As a result, Beth David became even more like a real synagogue. Allen was soon recruited to the Board of Directors.

After several years, a couple of different locations, and lots of hard work, the synagogue was able to raise enough money to purchase the great piece of land on which our synagogue stands today. Allen served as the financial VP in charge of raising money for a new building. It was a great struggle given that many of the members were young engineers and the fundraising was interrupted by the Yom Kippur War in Israel. Eventually, they raised enough money to build the first part of the new facility. After hiring a wonderful rabbi, the congregation grew to 200 families.

Since then, the Beth David community has continued to grow, thanks to committed volunteers like Allen, who worked so hard years ago.  As a past president and board member, Allen’s favorite thing about Beth David is that it is such a special community where congregants develop special connections, practicing Judaism with their friends and family. In addition, Allen believes that music in prayer is a great way to bring people together and makes services even more meaningful. 

A word of advice from Allen during this tough time is to stay connected with people because  we need community more than ever. It is so important to keep the community bonded over the phone and on Zoom and FaceTime. He feels that it is important to continue observing Beth David traditions and connections to stay grounded at this difficult time.

I chose to participate in the Building Bridges Program because Beth David is such a special place to me.  I have so much respect for the volunteers and staff, not to mention those who paved the way to bring Beth David where it is today. I’m grateful to have talked with such an honorable person, Allen Rosenzweig. Hearing his perspective has been invaluable to me. I learned that the original members of Beth David were a dedicated and determined group of people who turned a tiny synagogue into a full community where congregants can go to pray, learn Hebrew, and mingle with other Jewish members. I thank Allen Rosenzweig immensely for telling me all about his life and his journey with Beth David.