NORTH BRUNSWICK – Thirty years ago, Howard Rossman celebrated his father as he received his second bar mitzvah when he was 83 years old.
It stuck with him all that time.
“I thought it was nice,” Rossman recalled.
Fast forward 30 years later, Rossman and his wife Carol, now both 83, decided to have a bar and bat mitzvah celebration for the second time with support from their congregation at Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick in July.
Rossman celebrated his first bar mitzvah in June 1952. His wife Carol celebrated her first bat mitzvah in May 1952.
Bar and bat mitzvahs are religious Jewish coming of age ceremonies when children reach age 13.
The ceremony began with a Shabbat barbecue followed by Shabbat services led by Rabbi Philip Bazely and Cantor Mark Stanton. Dress was summer casual.
“Carol and I have enjoyed a life of a picture book – children, grandchildren, a story book of ups and downs, but always a story to tell,” Rossman said. “Each one of them [his children and grandchildren] has a story. A lot [of those stories are] in the temple. We have four generations in the temple. My father, myself, my children and now my grandchildren and now we’re back again.”
Carol said she and Howard grew up and went to school together in Passaic.
“We were friends, then we moved away to college,” she said. “When we got back, we reconnected.”
Carol said she had bought a Singer sewing machine and traveled to a local fabric shop in downtown Passaic to gather some material. The woman, who worked in the store, happened to be Howard’s mom.
She joked that a Singer sewing machine should have an advertisement.
“If you buy a machine from us, you’ll get a husband,” she said. Her comments brought laughter from family and friends during the ceremony.
The Rossman’s went on to marry, which came with approval from her grandfather with champagne he had saved for a special occasion, and they raised four boys.
“It was a trip. ‘Wow,'” Carol said, as she reminisced when their boys were young. “Four boys in the house. There was always something going on. A lot of sports, [and] a lot of dirty clothes on the floor, but it was fun. We loved it. We always tried to have Shabbat dinners on Friday night.”
As their sons grew up, the Shabbat dinners were replaced with Friday night baseball games and dinner consisted of pizza at Ninos.
“Good times, we had really good times,” she said.
Carol said their family is blessed beyond belief.
“We’re together, we have our family, we have our sons, we have our daughters in law … I call them my daughters because they are, and our beautiful seven grandchildren,” she said.
Dignitaries recognized the Rossman’s as they celebrated their 70th anniversary of their B’nai Mitzvots.
U.S. Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-NJ) requested a flag to fly over the United States Capitol to commemorate the couple’s 70th anniversary.
North Brunswick Mayor Francis Womack attended the celebration. He presented the couple with township proclamation.