Unsung Heroes: Merri Rosenbaum Helps Those in Need with Open Arms and Heart

BY JANIE ROSMAN

Merri Rosenbaum with cuddly fleece blanket she crafted for project "Wrapped in Love." Photo credit: Rochelle Welsh
Merri Rosenbaum with cuddly fleece blanket she crafted for project “Wrapped in Love.” Photo credit: Rochelle Welsh

When a neighbor broke her arm, Merri Rosenbaum stepped in to help. “I help her dress, takes her to the doctor, helps prepare meals for her, and anything she needs me to do,” the Suffern resident said.

“Merri is an absolute gem! She is so energetic and enthusiastic about helping people in need,” National Council of Jewish Woman (NCJW) Rockland President Rochelle Welsh said. “In addition to the many community service projects she’s participated in at NCJW Rockland, she’s always helping out a neighbor or friend who needs a hand — cooking, shopping, accompanying to doctor appointments. (She bakes great cookies!)”

Rosenbaum shares the NCJW Rockland Co-Vice President of Community role with Brenda J. Greenberg, director of Volunteer Services at Northern Services Group. “She’s someone who had a good life and likes to give back,” Greenberg said. “If someone is in need, she wants to help.”

A NCJW Rockland past president, Rosenbaum is president of B’Nai B’rith, a past president of Hadassah and is an officer with regional Hadassah program. Twice yearly she teaches “Women of the Bible,” a six-week class on Judaism and feminism that begins with the Bible and progresses up to the present, at JCC Rockland.

Twice weekly for two hours Rosenbaum taught A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns about Falls a class intended to help senior citizens reduce injuries from falls, through the Rockland County Department of Health.

Eighteen years as a crisis counselor at the Center for Safety & Change (formerly Rockland Family Shelter) give strength to her words. “If a woman is abused, we help her get an apartment if she wants to leave her home,” Rosenbaum explained. “We get her away from her abuser.”

Rosenbaum crafted a cuddly fleece blanket that was donated to the shelter for NCJW Rockland project “Wrapped in Love.

Coordinator of Volunteer Services Cindy McMurtie said Rosenbaum prepared comfort kits — clothes to change into — for rape victims when they go to the hospital and helped gather cleaning supplies, bedding and suitcases shelter residents when they leave for their new housing.

Welsh said Rosenbaum co-chaired a project to collect cereal that was in short supply at a local food pantry, shopped for cleaning supplies to be donated to the Center for women leaving the shelter, and was a long-time regular volunteer at the NCJW Rockland Replay Thrift Store in Nyack. “At the close of the store last year (July), she related a touching memoir about helping a young bride find a gown,” Welsh said.

Prior to retiring in 1988, Rosenbaum taught English at Spring Valley High School and was former dean of students (one of four deans). She and her late husband Irwin moved to Rockland County in 1957 with their three sons.

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