Home > Remembering Isaac > Welcome friends and associates of Isaac Rottenberg

Welcome friends and associates of Isaac Rottenberg

On June 28, 2010 Isaac Rottenberg shed his weakened body and entered the mystery of the resurrection.  While we mourn his absence, we rejoice that he has been united for eternity with those from whom he was separated in life, and that his spirit will guide us until we meet again.  Please leave your thoughts and remembrances by clicking on the “leave a comment button”.

Categories: Remembering Isaac
  1. Okke Postma
    June 29, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    The thirty plus years that I have known Ike only make me wistful for the fifty that I didn’t. Fresh from the Netherlands, it was a blessing to me to have great colleagues in the first RCA Classis that I served, among whom was Ike’s son John Rottenberg. The Dutch connection was an extra reason to stay in touch with Ike, and keep up with his many writings. Occasional meetings were always fascinating and never devoid of keen questioning and shared agony over the lack of interest in the RCA concerning the Christian-Jewish dialogue. When I served for a few years on the NCCC Christian-Jewish Council as a RCA delegate, the lack of support of the denomination was in sharp contrast to Ike’s encouragement and interest –and his stories filled with great humor as well as deep grief. His many books and papers have a special place on my shelf.
    As a final perspective, this is not the place to give the full ending of Rosenzweig’s famous book ‘The Star of Redemption’, deliberately set in a typography that ends in the point of a star; let it be enough to give the last pointed words: INTO LIFE

  2. Peter Paulsen
    June 30, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    The joke among students on the New Brunswick Theological Seminary campus in 1964 was that we were to be indentured to area ministers for training in the ways of parish ministry while in fact doing all the work the minister did not want to do. I was so indentured to a funny little man serving at New Shrewsbury (now Tinton Falls) NJ. Little did I know then how this man would shape my formation as a minister and influence my life over the coming decades. Isaac was a wonderful parish priest. Along with a good seminary faculty, I learned from him how to live and serve in Grace. Only a few years later I was again under his influence as we served on the denomination’s staff. His passion for the Church, his good humor, and his clarity of expression made him a gift to the Church and a trusted mentor. Over the years his interests centered on Jewish-Christian dialogue. His contributions in that area are legion. His call for absolutely honesty in conversation even if that is uncomfortable is the way forward. I imagine that even now he is with St. Paul discussing how the work of God in Jesus Christ relates to the on-going covenant with Israel. Certainly Isaac has told Paul all that is wrong with the book of Romans. He will be missed.

  3. Joan Klages Lowe, E.A.
    June 30, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    WE can only have the best of memories of Rev. Rottenberg. What a brilliant man, what a pleasure it was to work with him. And, I, Joan, fondly remember working with his daughters when we lived in New Jersey. (doing taxes) I was very fond of him, very impressed with him. A good man. I look forward to reading all about his life and his works.

  4. July 1, 2010 at 2:56 am

    I only got to share the last decade or so of the life of this fine human being. A scholar and true gentle man. I saw him as a loving husband, a good father, and beloved grandfather. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to know him and to have been connected in some small way to the life of this extraordinary person.

  5. Herman Harmelink
    July 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    As a first-year student in New Brunswick, I was invited, along with other students, to visit the Rottenbergs, then in High Bridge. During the ensuing half century I had the opportunity to work with Ike on the Christian Action Commission, ecumenical and interfaith affairs in the National Council of Churches and elsewhere. Absolutely unforgettable is the story Ike told one morning at General Synod l967, just after the Six-Day War, of his Jewish and his Dutch grandfathers appearing to him, each asking the same question: “What have you done for my people today?” He spent his life answering that question in the best possible way, and undoubtedly to the satisfaction of both grandfathers.

  6. Diana Walker
    July 2, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Seminary wives. Even the name shows its antiquity! But I was one, in the mid 60s, and with the passing of Isaac Rottenberg earlier this week, my current world is flooded with memories of that remarkable era. Three years spent in the New Shrewsbury Reformed Church under his tutelage were life shaping although we didn’t(couldn’t) fully know it at the time. Besides his challenging sermons and forthright prayers, what I remember most is his pastor’s heart. Alongside his great intellect was evidence of a man called to serve. Perhaps in the ensuing years not many people saw that heart beat like I did …. they had their own experiences. But I clearly remember his care for his flock, his colleagues in ministry in and outside of Reformed Church circles, and for his family. His mind might have been in high places but he had the wisdom to have his feet on the ground. His love for John, Irene, Judy, Paul and Marcia was evident. Malwina was his queen. I loved going to the parsonage and remember with great glee the many antics pulled upon us from the Rottenberg “youth group”!
    Years later I remember looking back on those early days with great thanks for it was within the halls of Isaac’s church that I learned about women who knew what it was like to serve the Lord with gladness. I learned about ecumenicity through the “Living Room Dialogues” he began as inter-faith conversations on Friday nights. I learned about the singular importance of being a parish priest. As I read his words of farewell, it becomes clear to me that he never lost his love and respect for congregational ministry. I was privileged beyond measure to live for a moment or two under his influence. He was a master teacher. I am forever changed and forever grateful. My love to one and all.

  7. robert h pope
    July 3, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    I am somewhat at a loss in any attempt to respond to Isaac’s death because since I first knew him way back in New Shrewsbury, NJ I have held him a bit in awe. After all how does one memorialize an unrivald personality? As a seminary student, when I first met him, he immediately became my model for the ministry mixed with a certain envy for his self confidence and quick mind. I have also admired his long battle with the church establishment. Although for far lesser and more parochial reasons I too have felt the churches hypocrisy and insincerity. I have unfortunately come to know all too often the truth in his remark that sometimes “he came out of church more depressed than when he went in”. And yet in spite of his battles I knew him to be a faitful servant of our Lord and a great connector between Judaism and the Christian faith. I shall miss his wisdom and insight to the faith as well as the loss of a good friend and wise colleague.

  8. Bob Mitchell
    July 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I shall never forget an afternoon I spent with Isaac in the winter of 1991-92 at his home in Dingman’s Ferry, PA. After a disastrous introduction to the Greater Palisades Classis, I was almost refused care by said Classis due to my introductory remarks. I said that we should not proselytize Jews because of Romans 11:26 (“…all of Israel will be saved…”). This remark scandalized a number of conservative pastors in that Classis, and it took the skillful maneuvering of friends I did not know I had at the time to save my hide. A compromise was reached. I was assigned to the late Rev. Fred Herwaldt for tutoring in the Word. We met monthly for about six months. One of the remedies that emerged from that process was a meeting, one-on-one, with Isaac Rottenberg because of his background and long experience in Jewish-Christian relations.
    I remember that afternoon with great fondness. After I explained to Isaac why I was there, he jumped up from his chair and began pacing the room, hand rubbing his chin, looking up to the ceiling of the high A-frame above us. Suddenly he turned to me with blazing eyes, and with that stentorian voice of his that nearly blew the windows out, he asked, “Are you saying that Jesus didn’t come for the Jews?”
    I gulped and muttered, “I never thought of it that way.”
    From there we proceeded to have a substantive chat. At one point I ask him for help. Astonishingly, his response was on the order of, “I don’t know! This subject is complex and there are no easy answers.” We agreed to build on an idea of the late Rabbi Robert Lehman, in whose synagogue I had sung for nearly 30 years. Rabbi Lehman once preached that Christianity is a religion of answers whereas Judaism is a religion of questions. No, not at all. Christianity too is a faith that begs more questions than it answers, despite its implicit simplicity.
    Thank you, Isaac, for your incisive wisdom, but more than that, for your love and lasting example of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  9. Jon Norton
    July 6, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    One of my first responsibilities as the new Synod Minister of the Regional Synod of New York, Reformed Church In America was to visit Isaac and to find out what was going on at the little, forgotten Reformed Church in Bushkill, Pennsylvania. It had been on the verge of death for a couple of decades. To my good surprize I found this “crusty” older man who took me out to lunch and told me stories of revitaliztion within the tiny church. This was long before the current use of the word revitalization in the RCA. He told me that all the people wanted was someone who would be “to the point” with them, a “stright” shooter. They wanted a leader who would love them and tell them the truth, not just appeasing them, but a pastor who would cast a vision for them they could believe in and try to follow.
    I have told Isaac’s story many times to many pastors and consistories over the past years. His life and works have blessed many, they have especially touched for good my life and ministry.

  10. July 28, 2010 at 5:58 am

    I am bereaved of the opportunity to have known this great man of God, but I have had the privilege of seeing the results of his work as shepherd of the Reformed Church of Bushkill, PA. The good seed he planted there fell on good soil, and continues to grow and bear much fruit for the glory of our Master Yeshua, and our God who is blessed forever. Please receive my condolences, dearest wife and children, and all extended family as well as friends…we will meet Isaac again at the glorious marriage feast of The Lamb and rejoice forevermore in our eternal victory over sin and death.
    In His Service with fondest regards,
    Jimmy Blank

  11. Patricia Sherman Dumas
    November 1, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I grew up on Glenwood Dr. in Tinton Falls (New Shrewsbury) with the wonderful Rottenberg family. Although I didn’t know the Reverend’s history, I wish I had, for I would of asked him many questions.

    To us kids, he was a kind, gentle man to all of us that ran in and out of his house. I will never forget. My love to Irene and John who I knew very well.
    Irene, I’ve been looking for you online… hope you are well.. please contact me if you wish… psdumas@comcast.net. I haven’t seen you since I bumped into you in Provincetown, MA long ago. My heartfelt sympathy to you. Much love, Pat Sherman Dumas

  12. robert everett
    March 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I am late to this site and it make my heart more heavy.
    Isaac was like a father-mentor to me for so many years. I learn much from him, and his words are often found in a sermon or a paper I write. He was truly a bigger than life operson. His scope of knowledge about the church an theology, his wisdom about being a parish minister, and his wise words in times of trouble or heartache, made his a special person.

    My life was greatly blessed by having know Isaac. i hope I can pas on just a part of the blessings he gave me to other.

    May the angels care and minister to Isaac as he glories in the light of God’s love and grace.

  13. Merrie White Buono
    November 23, 2017 at 2:05 am

    I have just discovered this site and wanted to add my condolences and thoughts about Isaac. We knew one another when I worked for AIPAC in Washington, DC . I was new to the world of Christian-Jewish relations, and Isaac guided me and taught me so much. I will always remember his courage, insight, and humor. His life was a testament to the difference one man can make.

    Merrie White Buono

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