By Cindy Mindell ~
WOODBRIDGE – After 50 years as synagogue librarian, Rhoda Gorenberg will be honored by Congregation B’nai Jacob after Shabbat services on May 19.
Gorenberg, a New Haven native, grew up in a family of readers. “Everyone always had a book in their hands,” she says. “I spent many happy hours in the Scranton Memorial Library in Madison; my mother would walk us to the New Haven Library on Elm Street. After crossing the Green, we’d stop for ice cream at the counter in Woolworth’s.”
As soon as she was old enough to work, Gorenberg got a job as a library page in the Scranton Library. “It was so exciting to now be on the other side of the desk,” she says. She graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a double major in education and library science and was hired as assistant branch librarian in the New Haven library system, subsequently working in all departments and branches throughout the city.
In 1961, Gorenberg was hired by education director Samuel Sloan to teach at Congregation B’nai Jacob, then located on George Street. The following year, the congregation relocated to a new building at 75 Rimmon Road in Woodbridge, where Gorenberg became the synagogue librarian.
Gorenberg also served as librarian of Ezra Academy in Woodbridge for nearly three decades and is a trustee of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven. As a local historian, she is often consulted by scholars and researchers within the local community and beyond.
Throughout her career, Gorenberg has enhanced her Judaic knowledge through classes at the Jewish Federation in New Haven. She is a lifetime member of NA’AMAT USA (formerly Pioneer Women) and serves on the Town Committee and Board of Health in Orange, where she lives.
“The B’nai Jacob library serves as a resource not only for members of our congregation, but for the greater New Haven Jewish community as well,” says Rabbi Joel Levenson. “Rhoda maintains a library of unparalleled quality, and she is always ready and willing to help a patron find the right resource or book.”
Gorenberg has fended off the many honors and awards offered to her over the span of her career. On May 19 at 12:45 p.m., she will mark her 50th anniversary by presenting an educational retrospective on the history of the library. “I feel so fortunate to have been able to combine my love of people, Judaism, and literature into a rewarding career,” she says. “When you love your work, you never look at the clock, so these 50 years have flown!”
Info: Congregation B’nai Jacob, (203) 389-2111 / www.bnaijacob.org