If my father Nathan Rosenfeld z”l, were still alive he would turn 104 today. To say he was an interesting man would be an understatement. He was a liberal with conservative views. He worked hard and made little but he never stopped trying. He fought in the Pacific Theater in WWII and came home with nightmares that never left him. He grew up in a Communist household and when he came home one day and found me listening to Firesign Theater’s All Hail Marx and Lennon, seeing the cover, he yelled at me up one side and down the other about patriotism. He grew up in a Communist home but was sent to and Orthodox Hebrew school to prepare for his Bar Mitzvah service. He was an American through and through but he wanted me to move to Israel and take a Hebrew last name to shed any tie to our European ancestry.
In June, 1967, not quite 6 months after my mother z”l died, the Six Day War broke out and he wanted to hop a plane to Israel to help. I think the only reason he didn’t was because he wouldn’t risk leaving me totally orphaned. He worked with my rabbi, Philip Horowitz z”l to send me to Israel on the Eisendrath International Exchange program (Now the Heller EIE High School in Israel program.) On Yom Kippur 1973, I was a freshman in college and ready to drop out to fly back to Israel to help in the war, he wouldn’t help me financially thus preventing me from going.
He never fulfilled his dream of getting to Israel a dream I have fulfilled on his behalf, and mine, over and over.
In Hebrew, 104 is spelled with the letter ד (dalet) and מ (mem) spelling the word דם (dam) which is the Hebrew word for blood. In the Hebrew Bible blood is portrayed as the container of the essence of life. My father’s life was interesting, complicated, hard, filled with friends, and very full. May we all be so blessed.