Dr. Lou Rosenblum's daughter Miriam offers her eulogy
Lou Rosenblum, my father, was a man who loved his family, could move mountains, and relished life.
Loved His Family
In a 1985 letter to the family, Dad wrote: “Throughout my life, at least since my twenties, I have been on friendly terms with introspection. And, now that I have reached an age at which my mortality is no longer in doubt, retrospection (not nostalgia, I trust) together with an assessment of accomplishments and failures are frequent companions. The subject at the fore of my ruminations is the family. I am
convinced that the family has been to both Mother and me the most satisfying and pleasing aspect of our lives. It has been and continues to be our proudest accomplishment and our good fortune.”
Dad radiated love for the four of us Rosenblum kids and later the eight grandkids and the three great grandkids. Case in point – Our entire immediate family, now numbering more than 20, has gathered every summer for nearly 40 years somewhere in the U.S. where we spend (and even survive) a whole week together under the same roof.
In that 1985 letter he anticipated the coming summer reunion with a request that was classic Dad:
“As official photographer of the occasion, I have a special pleading. Let’s have a little more color and pizazz in the outfits we wear for the annual family portrait. More ‘clown pants’ (think pink and green plaid pants), exotica, and bizarrerie is desired…”
The family reciprocated Dad’s profound love and feel blessed to have had him with us for so many years. I personally was honored to have been able to return some of this love in the past seven years as Dad and Mom became immigrants to Boston. After the end of their first year here when Mom passed away, Dad was able to continue to live his life to the fullest for as long as he physically could. I would not have traded these years for anything. I enjoyed being his personal secretary, research assistant, and editor, enabling him to remain in touch with friends and colleagues, to continue speaking and writing; and to navigate the challenges of daily life. I wish you all could have seen the joy on his face as he watched the antics of his great grandchildren and basked in the warmth of his family.
Dad’s 30 years of research and leadership at NASA would have in itself seemed an incredible accomplishment –he developed fuel for space flight, then photovoltaic and electric battery technology for both space and earthbound uses. He helped put a man on the moon and alternative energy in our homes. Dad moved mountains.
But Dad had a second job, equally historic. Simultaneous with his NASA career, Dad was doing his historic, ground-breaking work fighting for the freedom of Jews in the Soviet Union. Dad’s double life spanned nearly two decades and a good chunk of our childhood. A shout-out is due here to our Mom, of blessed memory, who kept hearth and home together during those years enabling Dad to have the space to do his important work for the Jewish people. Accompanying Dad as he fought to move the mountain that was Soviet repression of Jews led to my own involvement in the Soviet Jewry movement. And then one spring day, Dad introduced me to a
fellow young activist who would become my husband. We Rosenblum siblings have a unique claim to fame - how many people can say that their father played a crucial role in opening the Iron Curtain?
Of course, Dad wasn’t ALWAYS moving mountains. Sometimes he was climbing them… with our mom….and bringing us kids along with them. We were a camping and hiking family.
He loved his family fiercely. He moved mountains. But above all, Dad relished life. He had countless passions and interests and he plunged into each one with contagious enthusiasm and the focus and intensity of a scientist. “Scholar Dad” loved to delve deeply into every subject he pursued -- from the intricacies of the Hebrew language to the vagaries of the Soviet penal code. “Outdoors Dad” loved wilderness hiking, canoeing, skiing, and sailing on his beloved boat, “The Kugelhead.” “Pyromaniac Dad”
was endlessly fascinated with things that went bang and managed to insert fireworks into Jewish holiday celebrations, a practice we recreate at seder each year, saying “zeykher l’mikdash k’Lou” (this is the way Lou remembered the temple).
“Birding Dad” would gather the right equipment and plan trips for he and Mom to see their favorite creatures; and eventually designed the perfect squirrel-proof bird feeder. “Farmer Dad” brought forth 300 ears of corn each year from his garden and shipped entirely home-grown sauces in sealed bags to his children. “Iron Chef Dad” traded secrets with chefs at Chinese restaurants…and catered our wedding. “Schvitz loving Dad” organized a group of friends for monthly trips to the local shvitz (steam bath) for their ritual steam followed by dinner served right in the shvitz. Then he’d come home to tell us kids what really happened at the shvitz---naked ladies with long, red-painted
toenails would walk up and down their backs—and we, of course, believed him. (On Friday we heard from 3 of his former shvitz companions who fondly remember those outings). Dad’s relish for life filled our childhood with adventure—at times wondering if we’d survive and at times laughing ourselves silly.
A friend of his who emailed us this weekend described Dad as a “Renaissance Mensch.” That’s perfect, I thought. That’s exactly what he was.