A social worker, teacher, and political
activist, Mildred Rosenbaum worked for many Jewish and secular organizations to improve the quality of life for those less fortunate. Mildred was born and raised in Greenwood, Mississippi. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology in 1942 from the University of Minnesota, Mildred moved to New York where she worked for several Jewish organizations. She married Harold Rosenbaum in 1945 and they worked with various Zionist groups to support the creation of the State of Israel. They moved to Seattle in 1953. Over the years Mildred and Harold have raised one child of their own, and provided housing to forty-two foreign exchange students. Mildred works to ensure all people can live in peace, safety, and dignity.
“I fell in a burning fireplace when I was about two, and I was badly burned. We spent a lot of time going to various hospitals and medical centers in the South and twice to Mayo Clinic with no results. Then we moved to Aberdeen, South Dakota. My father took me to a hospital in Chicago for surgery, but he could just stay a few days. I was in this room with a girl my age. I asked her what religion she was. When she said, ‘Jewish,’ I told her I was Jewish, too. Her mother was furious that I was there all alone, and wrote a ‘poison pen’ letter to my mother. My mother wrote back, ‘If you’d like to come to Aberdeen and take care of our four other children, I would love a year in the Big City. P.S. Your name is the same as a member of our congregation.’ And it turned out it was her brother-in-law. She decided that she would visit me every day, even after her daughter went home. She was going to be family. She talked to the doctor about whether I could go home to her house, save my parents money on hospital bills, and so I went. And this is really something when you think that a total stranger would do all that, all because I was Jewish. And I’ve always felt that whatever I do, and whoever I take in, it’s partly for Hannabelle Pittel.”
“My husband came from a very Zionist family in Montreal. And when we were going to graduate school in New York, Ben Gurion had come to the United States to form an organization here of American Jews. They asked if they could use our apartment as a mail drop to pay for guns for the Jewish State, because it was illegal. It was very dramatic. And we felt very proud that we had helped. We were there when they declared the State in Madison Square Garden.
“In my life-and, I think in the lives of those who aren’t even aware of it-having the State of Israel has made a tremendous difference. The State of Israel opened the way for Jews to feel Jewish-publicly. At least in my lifetime. And I cannot turn my back on the Jewish people. This whole idea of Jews being responsible for each other is basic in Jewish life-is terribly important, and gets passed on.”
© 2004 Jewish Women’s Archive. Photographs by Joan Roth.