Starting on New Year’s Day, Lee Rosenfield will take over as chief executive officer of the Matthew and Staci Wilson Jewish Community Campus and the Betty and Milton Katz JCC of Princeton Mercer Bucks.
He describes the approximately $28-million development of the new campus in West Windsor, scheduled to open next fall, as the start of a wonderful new chapter for the community, and his role there as “a transformational leader,” enabling an already vibrant Jewish community to fulfill its potential, united in “one vision, and one voice.”
The job, as he sees it, is the logical climax of a career that began even before he graduated from college. As a communications student at University of New Hampshire in 1980, he established a Hillel center for the Jews on campus.
Then, as now, he told NJ Jewish News, he has had a passion for Judaism and Jewish life. He acquired it growing up in Salem, Mass., inspired by his late mother, attending a multi-denominational Jewish day school, being a member of a Conservative synagogue, and rising to the presidency of the local United Synagogue Youth chapter.
“I always saw myself becoming either a rabbi or a Jewish communal leader,” he said. “In many ways, I feel as if everything I’ve learned in 20 years of service to the community, with all the energy and skill and passion involved, has been in preparation for this moment. It’s a position I can see being in for the rest of my career.”
‘Translating into action’
Rosenfield, 43, will head the JCC and oversee the collaboration between it and the other organizations that will share the campus — the Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks, Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, and the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Mercer.
Rosenfield’s role will include campus management and ongoing fund-raising to cover construction costs and future functioning.
He said, “I’ll be listening very carefully to the needs and concerns of the community and translating them into action on the campus, in coordination with other agencies and congregations in our area.”
Rosenfield lives in Hopewell Township with his longtime partner Jack Fastag and their two young children, Ethan, four, and Eliana, 15 months. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California, and one in Jewish studies from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He worked as director of development first at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and then at Gratz College, before going on to serve as senior development officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
In a neat closing of the circle, the most recent job he has held — for the past three-and-a-half years and which he will leave on Dec. 15 — has been as development director for Rutgers Hillel, one of the largest in the country.
In his time there, the organization, based on the campus in New Brunswick, increased its professional staff by four and launched plans to create a major new facility. It also launched both the new Rutgers Hillel Center for Israel Engagement and its Reform Outreach Initiative.
Rutgers Hillel president Roy Tanzman said Rosenfield has held his post “with distinction.” He continued, “We understand that the opportunity to be the executive of a major institution in his home community is a compelling one. Clearly we wish Lee success, both personally and professionally.”