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Jewish leader practices inclusiveness at progressive lakeside synagogue

Two Saturdays a month, David Rosett hops on a bus headed to Riberas del Pilar from his home in Guadalajara, dons his prayer shawl and yarmulka, and leads congregants in morning services at Lake Chapala Jewish Congregation (LCJC).

pg9His goal as a “lay” Rabbi is to make services stimulating, at the same time encouraging members to lead Friday evening services and organize special events.

“In this way, I hope to maintain a feeling of egalitarian spirituality in which everyone can feel welcome and at home,” he says.

Like others of his generation, Rosett lost interest in Judaism for many years, returning to the practice when he joined a Conservative synagogue in Guadalajara. It was there that he realized that egalitarian principles were more important to him than the traditional male-oriented services that the synagogue was offering.

In 2013, while observing a service at LCJC during one of his visits to Lakeside, he resonated with their open mindedness as a progressive, inclusive synagogue.

At the time, two synagogue members – Elliot Gould and Richard Sinovoi – were leading services. When Sinovoi became too ill to continue, Rosett filled in. Eventually, Gould and Sinovoi moved back to the United States, and Rosett entered into a “trial” period before becoming the new official lay Rabbi in 2016.

Rosett enjoys introducing new ideas to the congregation. “If we’re really going to have an egalitarian, non-denominational synagogue where everyone can participate and feel accepted,” he says, “let’s think of ourselves and other Jews as ‘Jewish souls.’ We are here in this lifetime as Jews for a reason, and sometimes we don’t know what that reason is. Why waste our time getting into all kinds harsh judgements of one other and expectations about others’ ‘authenticity’ as Jews because they come from a different background or attend a different type of service? They are simply accustomed to another style of practice.”

When Rosett was a child, his family moved often, leading to an eclectic Jewish life. His first Hebrew school was Reconstructionist in New York. He was tutored by an Orthodox college student in Washington, D.C. and attended a Conservative camp when he was living in Los Angeles, where his family belonged to a Reform synagogue. Then, he traveled to Israel for a special “Ulpan” program with a multi-denominational group.

“When I returned to Judaism later in life, I read different points of view, which led me to perceive the possibilities of what Judaism could be.”

Rosett ended up in Mexico after he’d been teaching in a small village in Japan for a year. Initially, he wanted to teach social studies in Northern California, where his sister was living, but wasn’t able to find work there.

“My father mentioned a flyer that he saw posted at UCLA’s Department of Applied Linguistics, looking for people to teach technical reading at the University of Guadalajara’s School of Chemical Sciences.” With a degree in history, an ESL certificate, and experience teaching social studies, he submitted his resume and was accepted.

With plans to stay for the full year while teaching and learning Spanish, circumstances changed. “I met Consuelo in the university’s Department of Languages, where she was working as a secretary and studying to be an English teacher. We fell in love, and that was that.” The two were married a year and a half later.

At that time, the university had changed its system and created separate campuses, which opened up tenured positions. Thus, Rosett ended up getting a low-level tenured position. A short time later, they went to live in London for a year so Consuelo could finish her Master’s Degree. When they returned to Guadalajara, his teaching job was waiting for him. He also landed a freelance gig writing movie reviews for the Guadalajara Reporter. “For the five years that I wrote those reviews, I learned a lot,” he adds.

Presently, he’s working full-time in the University of Guadalajara’s Department of Languages, teaching humanities courses in history and literature to students training to be English teachers.

Rosett is busy, preparing to lead services for the High Holy Days, the holiest days of the year for Jews. Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, begins Wednesday night September 20, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins Friday night September 29.

“These are important holidays and this year they seem especially significant,” Rosett says. “We live in very polarized times and many people are experiencing a real disconnect with those of different viewpoints and beliefs. The Holy Days allow us to reflect on what we can do better, both as individuals and as a community, connecting not only with other Jewish souls, but with all souls.”

For information about High Holy Day tickets or synagogue membership, contact Mel Goldberg at 376-766-3940 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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