Rifka Rosenwein, Jewish Week Columnist, 42

Published November 28, 2003, issue of November 28, 2003.
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Rifka Rosenwein, a journalist whose monthly column in the New York Jewish Week over the past seven years chronicled her personal life as a suburban wife and mother — and eventually her battle against a rare form of cancer — died November 18 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. She was 42.

Rosenwein, who lived in Teaneck, N.J., was a writer and editor for The Wall Street Journal, Brill’s Content and Inc. magazines. She also served for several years as managing editor of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The Forward’s deputy managing editor, E.J. Kessler, knew Rosenwein professionally for about 15 years. “Rifka Rosenwein was a tzadeket, a righteous woman,” Kessler said. “She was a fine reporter and perceptive columnist whose work was highly esteemed among her colleagues. Our hearts go out to her family. We will miss her greatly.”

Rosenwein slowed down her freelance writing after she became ill nearly two years ago in order to devote more time to her recovery. But recently she managed to find the energy to collaborate with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, the prominent Jerusalem scholar and author, on a biography of the late Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem M. Schneerson. The biography is slated to be published next year.

Since February 2002, in her Jewish Week column, Rosenwein shared the vagaries of the disease, her uncertainty about the future and how cancer colored family events and holidays for the past year and a half.

“I am on cancer time,” she wrote after Purim 2002. “I can no longer peer down the road and look forward to the bar mitzvahs, the graduations, the career highlights, the new kitchen.”

In addition to her husband, Barry, she is survived by children Akiva, 12, Meir, 10, and Miriam, 7; her mother, Blanche Rosenwein of New York; and a brother, Moshe Rosenwein of Springfield, N.J.

Earlier this month, Rosenwein spoke at the funeral of her father, a Holocaust survivor, about what it means to be a survivor.

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