Yom Kippur is my favorite holiday. Connecting with Jews all around the world, reciting the same liturgy, fasting and being with my congregation is a moving and poignant experience. It is also in part a sad day and one filled with heartfelt memories, too. My mother, Ethel Dorfman Rosen, died on Yom Kippur September 20, 1980. My father, Samuel Rosen, died before I was born serving this country in World War II. My mother was a hero in a different way.
My mother and father lived together as husband and wife for 17 days before he shipped out, never to return. She was three months pregnant with me when my father was killed. Deprived unjustly of his life insurance, my mother needed to work to support me and her widowed mother who raised me. For ten years, six days a week, rain, sleet, snow, and heat, she trudged a mile each way to the T in Brookline where we lived. She rode it more than an hour in each direction to the China town section of Boston, the garment district, to her job as a comptroller of a large dress manufacturing company. In that era, my mother held a responsible job for a woman, but did not receive compensation that a man would have received.
For six more years before she remarried, my mother commuted one hundred ten miles roundtrip daily from Brookline to New Bedford, Massachusetts where her company was now situated.
She spent extraordinarily little time with me when I was growing up. When she remarried and moved to New York City, she sacrificed and permitted me to complete high school with my friends and teammates rather than ask me to move with her to a strange city. And I know that she missed me terribly.