In 1969, my uncle David, his wife Minnie and their two boys and four girls boarded a ship out of New York and made aliyah.
David, affectionately known as Davey, had two brothers, Berel and Phyvle, and a half sister, Sylvia. They grew up in downtown Toronto, starting out on Baldwin Street. Davey was the youngest. In some ways, he grew up in the shadows of his brothers, who became major leaders in the Toronto Jewish community, and internationally.
Berel was called “the General” from early on because of his powerful leadership qualities. He got his rabbinical ordination from Yeshiva University and was a member of the Mizrachi movement. One of his pulpits in Toronto was Sha’arei Tefillah.
Around the same time that Davey made aliyah, Berel, his wife Miriam and their five children moved to New York, where Berel had accepted a rabbinical position. Later, Berel became the president of the Rabbinical Council of America. He met with dignitaries like U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Today, Berel is 93. He still lives in Queens and is writing a trilogy on Jewish history.
Phyvle, my father, was one of the founders of the Agudath Yisrael in Toronto, a right-wing political and religious organization that’s still prominent today. Phyvle had verve and guts. He used those qualities to help rescue post-Holocaust Jews in Europe. Later, Phyvle married Gitel Flicht, moved to Kitchener, Ont., and became the rabbi of Beth Jacob Synagogue and the father of five children. Phyvle died there in 1989.
Davey was resourceful. He, Minnie and the kids stayed in an ulpan for months upon their arrival in the Holy Land. Although Davey had been an accountant in Toronto, he figured a career change would be wise. He created new business cards and distributed them to Diaspora families in the ulpan, offering them what everyone wanted and needed – insurance. It worked.
Eventually, Davey moved the family to Ramat Eshkol and then to Ma’ale Adumim. Minnie died in 1989, but left behind a hearty, Israeli family. Their boys were the first in our entire mishpachah to do army service. Their girls did Shnat Sherut. Upon completion of their army service, their children married and made a life for themselves. Only one of their children left Israel. She married a man from Detroit and lives there to this day.
As Davey’s grandchildren grew, one by one they too entered the IDF and did what was needed to protect the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
In 2016, Davey died. He was remembered as a son of simple folk, a brother of prestigious rabbanim, and a Jew who had the courage to move away from his place of birth to Israel, learn the language and evolve into a respected community leader just like his brothers. Davey saw all of this as a gift from God.
The brothers did a lot in life. They left an important mark on the Jewish world. But mostly, they adored one another. They were each other’s superheroes. They made their stint on earth, together, magical. God bless brothers. God bless the Rosensweig brothers.