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“Tikkun olam, to heal the world” Rosloff said. “Care for the widow, the orphan, the elderly, the poor and the stranger in your midst. That’s what I try to do.”
Rosloff is a widower himself, and any retelling of his life would be incomplete without mention of his late wife, Milie Rosloff. They were together for 62 years, had three children and seemed to share an appreciation for grassroots organizational skills. Rosloff told of how his wife, who worked as a paraprofessional, found out that her colleagues were getting paid less than New Jersey’s minimum wage. She campaigned to the board of education, eventually securing higher wages and full benefits.
It was his wife who originally prevented Rosloff from skydiving. He had served as a crew chief in the Army Air Corps during WWII, always interested in jumping. “She told me, ‘You can go, but I won’t be here even if you get back,” Rosloff said with a smirk.
Milie Rosloff suffered from a degenerative brain disease for the past five years of their marriage. It was “complete hell to see her deteriorate,” Rosloff said. She passed away in 2005. “It’s rare for people to be together that long. I still miss her every day.”
Six years later, Rosloff felt like the time was right to take the plunge. In 2011, at age 90, he leaped from 8,000 feet on an overcast day without any apprehension. The next year, when he broke his ankle, Rosloff took off from 13,500 feet.
“I still loved the experience,” he recalled with a smile. “You get to see the world as a ball from up above.”
Since retiring from his insurance and real estate firm in the early 1980s, Rosloff helped establish B’nai Tikvah in 1983, served as a founding board member of the low-income Oak Woods Senior Residence and now writes a regular column for Hakol, B’nai Tikvah’s monthly newsletter.
Rosloff’s columns are a way for the congregation to get to know the man behind the fundraising. For example, in the June column, Rosloff revealed how holding the Torah soon after his mother’s death, in 1959, sparked a visceral reaction to Judaism that has stayed with him. “I felt a physical and emotional relationship to the Torah,” he writes, “as though I was holding my mother in my arms.” He told me that before his mother passed away, he attended synagogue occasionally, but never considered himself religious.
Wolkoff said that Rosloff is from the greatest generation: “Risking everything for a noble cause, that’s just what they do.”
Wolkoff joked that the old adage is wrong. “In this case, you can keep a man down,” he said. For a good cause, at least.
Jordan Teicher lives in New York City. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Slate and Vice.