BOSTON (JTA) — When Harvard University’s rabbi first pushed to relocate the Hillel from the outskirts of campus to its center, Henry Rosovsky was initially skeptical.
“He was absolutely right. I was wrong,” Rosovsky told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2017, at a 25th anniversary party for the Hillel building that bears his name: Rosovsky Hall.
The event was also a 90th birthday party for Rosovsky, an economist who almost all of his career at Harvard, spanning decades in which he influenced the school’s curriculum, led a committee charged with improving conditions for Black students and shepherded the flourishing of Jewish life on campus.
Rosovsky died Nov. 11 at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he lived and worked since joining the Harvard faculty in 1965. He was 95.
“His legacy continues to influence the experience of every person on our campus today,” Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, who is Jewish, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “With his passing, Harvard has lost one of its greatest champions and its finest citizens.”
At his funeral at Temple Israel of Boston, Rosovsky was remembered by family, colleagues and friends for his brilliance, witty humor, love of tennis and jazz, and his sage advice and mentorship.
His daughter, Leah Rosovsky, said her father took his greatest satisfaction in the role he played in establishing what is now Harvard’s African and African American Studies Program and recruiting its longtime chair, historian Henry Louis Gates Jr., who attended the funeral.
Born in a Jewish family on Sept. 1, 1927 in what is now Gdansk, Poland, Rosovsky immigrated to the United States with his parents and brother in 1940, after escaping the Nazis through France, Portugal, Spain and Belgium. He volunteered for the U.S. Army in World War II and also served in the Korean War, according to an obituary published by Harvard. After graduating from the College of William and Mary, he arrived at Harvard for the first time in 1949 to pursue a doctorate in economics.
In 1965, he returned as a professor of economics, with a specialty in Japanese and Asian economic development. He would stay at the university for the rest of his career, shaping not only the Ivy League college but Boston’s Jewish community.
As dean of Harvard’s College of Arts and Sciences from 1973 to 1991, Rosovsky led implementation of the school’s groundbreaking core curriculum. He also served two terms as Harvard’s acting president; was appointed a member of the Harvard Corporation, where he was the first Jew on the school’s governing body; and oversaw the establishment of Harvard’s Center for Jewish Studies.
In 1969, with student unrest spurring changes at many universities, Rosovsky led a committee to study the experience of Black students at Harvard. The resulting “Rosovsky report” urged the creation of a standalone department for African and African American studies and other steps to integrate and empower Black students. Rosovsky quit the committee after students were given equal say, a move that he said should have taken place only after careful study. He resumed his involvement shortly before his retirement in the 1990s, recruiting high-profile scholars including Gates to transform the department into an academic powerhouse.
Rosovsky’s 1990 book “The University: An Owner’s Manual,” exposed outsiders to the complex operations of a research university. But the former dean was equally helpful to university insiders, Bacow said, noting the time Rosovsky devoted to doling out advice to college presidents. Several of Harvard’s presidents, including Drew Gilpin Faust, Lawrence H. Summers and Neil Rudenstine, echoed that sentiment in published remarks at the celebration of his 90th birthday.
His reach extended beyond Harvard, too. As chair of the Boston Jewish federation’s strategic planning committee in the 1990s, Rosovsky shared his analytical expertise and his ability to bring people together to help chart a course for Boston’s Jewish community, according to Barry Shrage, who for decades led the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.
“It was a turning point in terms of Jewish learning, adult Jewish education, building community at the grassroots and engaging synagogues,” Shrage told JTA in a conversation at the funeral. “It all emerged in the strategic plan.”
Shrage added, “He was a secular Jew but his Jewish identity deeply influenced his vision of the world.”
Rosovsky is survived by Nitza, his wife of 66 years and a former longtime curator of the Semitic Museum at Harvard; his children, Leah, Judy and Michael and their spouses; four grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
“He didn’t set out to trumpet his own Jewish identity,” Rabbi Jonah Steinberg, Harvard Hillel’s executive director, told JTA in 2017 about Rosovsky. “By being very honestly who they are, they were an example to others.”
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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