By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried
This week we sadly lost a pivotal figure in the history of the Dallas Jewish community, Mr. David Rosenberg ob’m. Since most of you were not present at the funeral, I wanted to share with you thoughts expressed there. It is very important and appropriate that members of a community are aware of a great leader who has been lost to them. This is especially true when many of our lives have significantly been touched by this man, directly or indirectly, without many of us even knowing it. Mr. Rosenberg was a man who discreetly gave so much of his time, resources and caring toward the founding, building and sustaining of many of our local institutions; including Congregation Shaare Tefilla, Ohr Hatorah, Tiferet Israel, Akiba Academy, Torah Day School of Dallas, Yavneh Academy, Mesorah High School for Girls, Chabad of Dallas, NCSY, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, and the list goes on to include many more local, national and international institutions.
A couple days before his passing, I sat with Mr. Rosenberg in his hospital room, surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren reciting Tehillim/Psalms in prayer for their beloved husband, father and grandfather. I held his hand for a long while, and as long as life pulsated in that hand I could feel all his warmth, loving and caring.
I also felt that his hand was my last chance to hold hands with the Jews of his native Czech town of Bardiav with all its pre-war holiness and purity, its sages and simple, devoted Jews. I was holding hands with his holy ancestors from the Sanz-Stropkov dynasty; with all of Europe’s Jews from a bygone time; holding hands with generations back to Sinai.
In his warm, soft touch I was able to feel the strength and resilience of the Jewish spirit which, with his deep faith, gave him the resolve and tenacity to survive the inferno of the Holocaust. Not just to survive, but to stand up and shake off the ashes, and together with his wife who was the love of his life, to build a proud family of Jewish leaders and builders. This was the strength to build a financial empire in a country where he couldn’t even speak the language, and to utilize that empire to build a spiritual empire where Torah and the lessons of the past became vibrant in the present and serve as a foundation for the future.
The strength of the Jewish people is that we are deeply rooted in our past, fully living in the present and actively building the future. Mr. Rosenberg was rooted in his glorious past, in the simple burning faith of his forebears. This gave him the fortitude to never miss a day in the camps to, somehow, don his tefillin. He adopted and lived his forebear’s life theme of happily accepting whatever came his way as “besheret,” that’s the way “the Oibershter feert the velt,” the way God runs the world.
He brought that message into the present, where he ensured that world of the past would be relevant for his children, grandchildren and community through the multiple Jewish institutions he participated and built, many in partnership with his brother Mr. Marcus Rosenberg ob’m. And in the schools he built and cared so much for, he was ensuring a Jewish future. I was deeply touched to tears when I learned that his procession would first be stopping at Torah Day School where the children, hundreds of HIS children, would come out of the building to recite Tehillim and pay their last respects to the man who was largely responsible for all they learn.
May we continue to feel the warmth of his loving hand in the continued growth and success of our community and all he built. May he rest in peace, and may his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.