Todah Rabah, Sheynem Dank & Many Thanks to the Members of Temple Beth Emeth of Flatbush for naming us their Nov ’13 Members-of-the Month!
Jan was born at Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. She is a graduate of Livingston (NJ) High School but that’s where the easy part of her educational life ends. From her sophomore year at LHS to her sophomore year at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, Jan was also taking classes at The New School for Social Research. As a matter of fact, on the day of her graduation from LHS, Jan was in Manhattan, so her professor at the New School took the students out for a celebration after class.
After graduating from St. John’s, Jan did a fellowship in Israel (which coincidentally covered the period of the Yom Kippur War), and she met someone in the Ministry of Education who helped her get into a PhD program at Harvard afterwards. (An interesting part of her fellowship was that she was also able to travel from Israel to Iran. “With the Shah there, you could do those things in those days.”) Jan received an EdM from Harvard but, as she puts it, “I didn’t like it there,” so she traded in the crimson of Harvard for the green of SUNY Binghamton. Unfortunately her dissertation advisor at SUNY-B died suddenly of cancer, so she moved on to the University of Chicago. “In the end, I have three Masters but no PhD,” yet Jan says she has no complaints. “It was in Chicago that I met Mr. Wonderful.”
“Mr. Wonderful,” of course, is her husband, Rich. Rich was born in Karachi, Pakistan and has lived in Germany, Ecuador, Columbia, Panama… and Lincoln, Nebraska! “My father was a Foreign Service Officer, and he was the State Department’s official ‘Diplomat in Residence’ at University of Nebraska for one year.” The family spent most of its stateside time in Alexandria, VA, where Rich graduated from T. C. Williams High School (made famous in the Denzel Washington film “Remember the Titans”). When his parents moved to Brazil, Rich headed off to Oberlin College in Ohio, and then went to the University of Chicago to do a PhD in Philosophy. While in college and graduate school, he also spent six years in the Marine Corps Reserve. After a summer in the “Careers in Business” program at NYU, Rich changed direction, and received an MBA degree and then a CPA certification. He began his health care career in Cost Reimbursement at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he steadily moved up the ranks until the move to Brooklyn.
The two met in March 1977, the day Jan arrived on campus for her interview at UC. “When I started attending classes in September, Rich was the only person I knew. One thing led to another and soon we were ‘an item.’” Married for over 31years, they came to Brooklyn when Rich got a new job as Assistant Vice President of Hospital Finance at SUNY Downstate. It is actually because of Beth Emeth that they live in the neighborhood and not the other way around. As Rich puts it, “We typed ‘Jew + Reform + Brooklyn’ together in Google, and just started driving around.” They arrived at TBE and met former Religious School teacher Vikki Katz who passed Jan’s business card to our Executive Vice President Jeff Levinson, and that started the ball rolling. Now, they are regulars at Friday night services. “We like the 8:00 PM start so we can finish our work, have a quick dinner, and cap off our week,” says Rich. “Beth Emeth is now the anchor of our social life and spiritual fulfillment.”
While all of this was happening, they still had to find an actual place to live. It was Lori Pandolfo who put them in touch with our own Jan Rosenberg (can someone say, “Small world”?), and she got them into their apartment.
At Temple, Rich participates in weekly Torah Study, and they also really enjoyed the Community Seder and the Holocaust Memorial Day observance they attended with Rabbi Hoover. For seven years, Jan was Arts & Culture Critic for the JUF News (sponsored by the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago) and she continues to write special features and movie reviews for them from Brooklyn. Her monthly JUF Online blog post is called “Tzivi’s Cinema Spotlight,” so it’s no surprise that when asked about any “hobbies” they might have, Rich says with a big smile, “Movies, movies, movies.”
In closing, Jan spoke for both of them when she said, “We are sincerely grateful for the incredible warmth of the Beth Emeth community and the way you embraced us during a time of tremendous upheaval in our lives. The fact that we have landed on our feet so fast is a tribute to the Beth Emeth family. It is a miracle how it has all worked out.”
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Click HERE to read the November ’13 newsletter online.
Click here to download newsletter as a pdf –> Nov2013NewsletterBE
Photo taken at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens by a kind passerby.