Beth Israel Congregation will welcome Jen Rolnick as its new cantor on Aug. 1.
Cantor Roger Eisenberg, who had been with the Conservative Owings Mills congregation since 2000, stepped down in June. The search for his successor, which lasted about six months and was conducted by an in-house committee, drew hundreds of candidates from around the country.
“Beth Israel was the perfect opportunity at the perfect time,” said Rolnick, who recently completed her master’s degree in sacred music and Jewish education from the Jewish Theological Seminary of School. “I know Baltimore has a rich Jewish culture, so that was definitely something that made me interested in the job and something I look forward to enjoying.”
Rolnick, 34, is a native of Sugar Land, Texas, and a non-practicing attorney. She has forged a dynamic second career into the Jewish clergy after earning her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Miami in 2005 and her juris doctor degree from Nova Southeastern University in 2008.
In her new position, Rolnick will help lead weekday and Shabbat services, oversee congregational music programs, tutor b’nai mitzvah students and work with the preschool, among other responsibilities. She also hopes to establish a congregation choir and programs geared toward post-b’nai mitzvah teens to further their engagement of Jewish values through music.
“I am eager to get started and to do whatever is needed from me for Beth Israel to continue growing,” Rolnick said. “I think I bring a lot of pieces from my life experience to the table that will help make this a smooth transition.”
Andy Katz, executive director at Beth Israel, said Rolnick possessed many amiable traits the congregation sought from its new cantor.
“We didn’t just want anyone,” Katz said. “We wanted someone who had some life experience and a little bit of seasoning, and with Cantor Rolnick, that’s exactly what we have now. She’s a mensch in every sense of the word.”
Before joining Beth Israel, which boasts a membership of nearly 700 households, Rolnick spent the last four years as Houston-based Congregation Shaar Hashalom’s High Holidays hazzan. For the past two years, she served as student cantor of Congregation Beth El in New London, Conn., while also serving as cantorial intern for Ansche Chesed in New York.