Rosenberg couple 521.
(photo credit: Wendy Blumfield)
Meeting Susan and Dick Rosenberg, one is reminded of Ethel and Norman Thayer
from On Golden Pond, but without all the neuroses. On the contrary, their lives
revolve around an enormous extended family of four children, 17 grandchildren
and 27 great-grandchildren (with one on the way). Susan with her serene smile
keeps it all together, is a wizard with the computer and Skype and cares
devotedly for Dick who, although confined to a wheelchair, leads an active
academic, intellectual and social life. A caretaker for Dick has lightened their
lives and they still live in their beautiful penthouse apartment with its
stunning views over the sea and the Carmel.
PLANNING ALIYA Although the
long process of aliya was completed in 1973, their first Israel experience was
many years previously.
Dick had served as an officer on a destroyer in
the US Navy and saw action in the North Atlantic, in the D-Day landings on
Normandy and later in the Pacific where his ship was hit at Okinawa. In 1948, he
was invited by the late Teddy Kollek then head of Rechesh, the clandestine
recruitment service, to come here as a foreign expert to help launch the
“They called it Chel Ambatya [the Bathtub Unit] before that,” he
Susan who grew up in Philadelphia, was denied a Jewish education
and knew nothing about Zionism.
“Just be a good American,” her father
told her, “and that’s being a good Jew.” Susan and Dick married young, “a very
romantic marriage,” as described by Dick. Looking at them interacting, it is
obvious the romance has been sustained all these years.
“When Dick was
invited to come to Israel, I was terrified,” admits Susan. “I agreed only
because I felt that if I refused, it would come between us. I figured that we
would come for a year, he`d get it out of his system and then we’d return and
live happily ever after in Philadelphia.”
After two years in the navy,
Dick was asked to manage the Alliance Tire Company in Hadera. The couple had
come with two small children and by this time they were adjusted and loved their
life and their friends in Haifa.
They returned to the US for Dick to
train with Alliance’s parent company and came back a year later, with another
addition to the family. In 1956, Dick finished his job at Alliance during which
their fifth child was born, and then spent the next 17 years back in the US.
Dick became vice president of Dayton Tyres and later chief executive officer of
a large foundry..
THE SECOND COMING
Their aliya in 1973 was the
fulfillment of a family dream for Dick. His grandfather had been a founder of
the Cleveland Zionist society and the family were Zionists and observant
Conservative Jews. “In 1976 we planted a grove of trees at Shoresh in the name
of my grandfather and each of our children planted a tree there,” says
“We were motivated by the Six Day War,” adds Susan. “We had so many
friends who were in danger here, how could we just sit there and watch and
worry?” By the end of 1973 when they finally made aliya, one of their daughters
was already living in Jerusalem.
One son was in the IDF and was wounded
in the Yom Kippur War.
The Rosenbergs returned to Haifa where
Dick was a doctoral candidate in the Technion Faculty of Industrial Engineering
and Management. He received his doctorate in behavioral science.. He continued
teaching and consultancy work there well beyond retirement age.
confesses her moments of panic on the journey: “We traveled from Italy by ship
and the night before we docked in Haifa I suddenly got scared, what had we
done.” However arrival was homecoming and they were welcomed by their son and
daughter and their many old friends.
“I was euphoric,” says Susan, whose
son had warned her that the first year of aliya would be one of
The Rosenberg’s third child made aliya with
them and the other two sons spent time here and in the US.
their youngest son died in 2006 and is buried here where his children and
A further tragic blow to the family came a year later
when a grandson was killed in a traffic accident on his way to the airport to
join the family for his father’s memorial. He is buried next to his father in
Lehavim in the South, a sad pilgrimage for the family on their annual
Susan and Dick have become more Orthodox over the years
even though Susan was discouraged by the Orthodox establishment. Their extended
family ranges from haredi to totally secular. “We all keep in touch by telephone
and e-mail and frequent visits,” says Susan.
Dick described his weekly
Gemara lesson by telephone with his yeshiva teacher grandson in
Brooklyn.SOCIAL LIFE AND HOBBIES
Susan is a gifted poet and actress. She
started writing poetry in third grade and soon after aliya she joined Voices
Israel Poetry in English Society and took over as secretary in the early 1980s.
“At the first meeting I attended I was very overwhelmed by these talented
poets,” says Susan, but since then she has won prizes in the Reuben Rose
Memorial Competition and had poems published in the annual Voices anthology. She
has had two books of poetry published.
Susan was also one of the founding
members of Haifa English Theater. She had acted in the Indiana Community Theater
and brought her thespian skills to many of the plays produced for
Dick is a talented pianist and a beautiful Steinway grand graces
their living room. “I attended a music conservatory when I was young,” he says,
“but one day I came to the conclusion that I was reasonably good but not
outstanding.” He enjoys playing and singing and was formerly in the Haifa
Dick’s physical disability has slowed down their social
life and Susan reflects sadly that they have lost many old friends as the years
go by; others have moved further away to retirement homes.
his time preparing for his weekly Gemara lesson and teaches a Bible class to a
small group of women.
“We have no regrets,” says Susan as she and Dick
sit close together holding hands. “Israel is home and we would not want to live
anywhere else in the world. We feel very strongly that this country’s destiny,
our people’s destiny and ours is here.”
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