WESTFIELD, NJ — For those seeking a vibrant, active Jewish community, the town of Westfield is a great choice. Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, founded in 1950, became the largest Reform synagogue in New Jersey while led by Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff who served as Senior Rabbi from 1966 through 2002.
Today’s congregation is composed of over 1,200 families. A member of Rabbi Kroloff’s congregation said that “something new is always learned in his sermons.”
Charles Kroloff was born in East Chicago, Indiana. He and his sister were raised in Georgia. He had the opportunity through the Ford Foundation to apply for admission to college while still in high school. He did so as a “lark” and was offered admission to Yale University at age 16.
He met his future wife, Terry, while she was a student at Wellesley College. They were married in 1955. After graduation from Yale, he studied for four years at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and spent a year in Israel. After earning his rabbinic ordination, he served as assistant rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston for three years and then became Rabbi of Community Reform Temple in Westbury, New York.
The Kroloffs came to Westfield in 1966 when Rabbi Kroloff accepted the position of Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El. Rabbi Kroloff and his wife Terri Kroloff, Ph.D. are the parents of two sons, Micah and Noah, and a daughter, Sarah.
During Rabbi Kroloff’s tenure he has spearheaded outreach to other communities placing special emphasis on tikkun olam, or social justice.
He was cofounder of “I Have A Dream” program in which 56 first graders in Plainfield were encouraged to finish high school. Ninety-four percent of them did and half of them continued their post-secondary education, and some, post-graduate studies while being financially sponsored by Temple mentors.
The Rabbi was a co-founder of the Interfaith Council for the Homeless which has become a national program called Family Promise. Locally, Home First (Plainfield) is part of this effort to house homeless families.
Rabbi Kroloff is the author of “When Elijah Knocks, A Religious Response to Homelessness” and “54 Ways You Can Help the Homeless.”
Another priority of Rabbi Kroloff has been his love of Israel and enduring hope for peace. He has been instrumental in supporting civil liberties, civil rights, inclusion, cultural enrichment and opposition to the Vietnam War.
Upon his retirement in 2002, the new educational wing of the Temple was named for him. The rabbi has been rewarded for encouragement of his students to enter the rabbinate with the ordination of 18 persons, men and women.
His distinguished career has included leadership positions in major American Jewish organizations: president, Association of Reform Zionist of America, 1985- 1989; president, Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1999-2001; vice president for Special Projects of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, 2004-present; instructor at Hebrew Union College from 1980- 2018.
Our state and the Westfield community have benefited with Rabbi Kroloff’s service as commissioner, State of New Jersey Bioethics Commission 1990-1994; president of the Westfield Foundation; president of Westfield Ministerium; Westfield Rotary’s Humanitarian of the Year; and writer of Reform Judaism, A Jewish Way of Life.
Rabbi Kroloff enjoys his seven grandchildren, classical music, opera, golf, swimming, the New York Mets and the theater. The Westfield Historical Society is honored to induct Charles A. Kroloff into its Hall of Fame.
The Westfield Hall of Fame is a Committee of The Westfield Historical Society. The Hall of Fame Committee has a long list of qualified candidates submitted by the public for its consideration in future inductions.
The Historical Society members and the public at large are encouraged to submit profiles of persons believed to be strong candidates for the Westfield Hall of Fame to Westfield Historical Society, P. O. Box 613, Westfield, NJ 07091.