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, including the National Council of Jewish Women. Mildred also served as Assistant Director of Jewish students at Columbia University. 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. They were also very active in the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War. Mildred's passions include reading, and for many years, she has been a book reviewer for Hadassah. Mildred works to ensure all people can live in peace, safety, and dignity.
Mildred discusses her family background, how her parents met, and their marriage. When Mildred was two, she fell into a burning fireplace, was severely burned, and was sent to Chicago. Mildred spent a lot of time alone in a hospital, undergoing several surgeries and skin grafts to treat her injuries. A Jewish woman named Hannabelle Pittel looked after Mildred in the hospital and invited Mildred to stay in her home to save on hospital bills. This experience would inspire Mildred always to help those in need throughout her life. Mildred talks about her family, three brothers, two sisters. Her father was a rabbi, and they were raised Orthodox in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where she experienced antisemitism for the first time. She describes the Jewish community in Aberdeen, predominantly a Catholic community. Mildred attended the University of Minnesota, became a pacificist, and got involved in the Jewish Community Center in Minneapolis. Mildred graduated in 1942 with degrees in psychology and social work. Her first position was at the Hartford Retreat, a psychiatric hospital in Connecticut, which Mildred felt was unfriendly to Jewish employees. So, Mildred came to New York and served as the assistant Counselor to Jewish students at Columbia University, where she met her husband Harold, a dental student. They were both passionate about and active in the Zionist movement and worked to support the creation of the State of Israel. Mildred remembers standing in Madison Square Garden when Israel declared its independence in 1948. Mildred and Harold were married in Minneapolis, then lived in Montreal while Harold finished school and moved to New York. Mildred shares memories of her married life, Shabbat dinners, and their move to Seattle in 1953. Mildred describes the Jewish community in Seattle, the synagogues and educational opportunities, and the Jewish dental group that her husband became part of. Mildred and Harold were founding members of Congregation Beth Shalom.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Mildred Rosenbaum. Interviewed by Roz Bornstein. 8 August 2001, 9 August 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on November 29, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/rosenbaum-mildred>.
Oral History of Mildred Rosenbaum by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.