Culture & Community

Rosa and Harris Weinstein: Celebrating Love and Life, Thanks to a Weizmann Founder

• TAGS: Community, Philanthropy, Humanity

Harris and Rosa Weinstein, 1960s 2
Harris and Rosa Weinstein, circa 1960s.

 

With their 65th wedding anniversary approaching in June, Rosa and Harris Weinstein decided to mark the occasion with a gift to the Weizmann Institute. The couple believes deeply in the Institute’s vital mission, but their reasons are more personal. They wanted to honor Dewey Stone, one of the American Committee’s earliest visionaries who helped realize Dr. Chaim Weizmann’s dream of a world-class scientific research institution in Israel.

“It was Dewey Stone who brought our family out of Vienna in 1939,” Rosa explained. “Quite simply, had it not been for his generosity, we would not have this milestone to celebrate.”

“Had it not been for Dewey Stone’s generosity, we would not have this milestone to celebrate.”

In 1933, the year Hitler became Chancellor of the Third Reich and Austria shifted to authoritarian rule, Rosa’s father, Simon Grunberg, began making plans to escape. He was among the throngs of Austrian Jews who lined up in front of the American Embassy, hoping to gain the necessary paperwork to bring his family to the United States. At the time, however, it was difficult to secure a U.S. immigration visa.

Dewey Stone Headshot
Dewey Stone

The family’s situation became more dire after German troops entered Austria in 1938 and annexed the country, an event known as the Anschluss. Nazi leadership quickly imposed antisemitic laws, forcing the Grunbergs to close their grocery store. To make ends meet, Simon took down the shelves of the store and began making and selling trunks for those who were leaving. Still, the family fell into poverty.

“We had no money and had to eat in a soup kitchen,” Rosa said.

Simon wrote to his uncle, Moses Grunberg, who lived in Taunton, Massachusetts. Moses went to Dewey Stone, a successful businessman and charismatic leader of the Jewish community in nearby Brockton, for help.

The Grunberg Family
(L-R) Simon, Rosa, and Teme Grunberg, circa 1945.

Stone provided a guarantee of work—which allowed Simon to acquire visas for himself, his wife, Teme, and four-year-old Rosa—and $429 to pay for shipping fare. Simon, Teme, and Rosa took a train from Vienna to Trieste, Italy, and traveled to America aboard The Saturnia. They were the only members of their family who managed to escape.

In October 1939, Rosa and her parents sailed into New York Harbor. They eventually settled in Fall River, MA, where Simon obtained work with a trunk manufacturer. Sadly, Teme passed away less than 10 years later, when Rosa was 12.

As a junior in high school, Rosa met Harris Weinstein at a local Young Judea gathering.

“I was someone else’s date,” she laughed, “and he brought me to a meeting in the social hall.”

The boy happened to be a friend of Harris’s from the neighboring town of New Bedford. The meeting left an impression. When Harris was a freshman in college and returned home on a holiday break, he called Rosa. They married in 1956.

Together, they’ve lived a full and meaningful life. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MIT, Harris went on to study law at Columbia University. Rosa studied at Boston University and became a teacher. In 1961, they moved to Philadelphia, where Harris clerked for Judge William H. Hastie of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He practiced law with the firm Covington & Burlington in Washington, D.C. from 1962 until his retirement in 2009; he then taught law at Catholic University.

After raising their three children, Rosa went back to school and earned her master’s degree in liberal arts from Georgetown, where she discovered a love of anthropology. Inspired to help other lifelong learners, she founded and directed Himmelfarb Mobile University, a program of the Jewish Social Service Agency that provides college-like courses to residents of nursing and retirement homes throughout Greater Washington, D.C. The classes are taught by about 30 volunteer teachers, who include professional musicians and athletes, religious leaders, former government officials, and other experts in their fields. Thanks to Rosa’s energy and infectious enthusiasm, the program became a great success. In recognition of her work, she was honored as a 2002 “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian magazine.

Harris and Rosa Weinstein
Harris and Rosa Weinstein

 

The couple has since retired to Rancho Mirage, California, where Rosa actively volunteers with Jewish Family Service to bring educational programming to seniors. The Weinsteins also spend their time keeping up with their three grown children and six grandchildren. Their daughter, Teme, named for Rosa’s mother, is a blogger in Chicago. Their older son, Joshua, is a writer-producer in Los Angeles, having been an executive producer and showrunner of The Simpsons. Their youngest son, Jacob, is a children’s book author in London; his forthcoming picture book, What Rosa Brought, tells the story of his mother’s experience as a Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied Vienna.

Through the years, as the Weinsteins achieved both personal and professional fulfillment, they never forgot the act of generosity that made it all possible. While Rosa never had the opportunity to meet Dewey Stone, she remains grateful for his role in her family’s escape to America. In addition, Harris has his own connection: his cousin’s cousin married into the Stone family. “It was a meaningful coincidence,” Rosa said.

“The Institute’s research is creating a better world, not only for the Jewish people, but for all people.”

On the occasion of their 50th anniversary, the Weinsteins made their first gift to the Weizmann Institute in Dewey Stone’s honor: “We learned that Dewey had helped in the founding of the Institute and we thought it would be right to contribute in his name.”

The Institute’s mission of science for the benefit of humanity resonates for two people whose lives and careers have been devoted to serving others. “Even if we hadn’t known about Dewey Stone, we’d still want to support Weizmann,” Rosa said. “The Institute’s research is creating a better world, not only for the Jewish people, but for all people. It’s tikkun olam.”

Today, they’re proud to continue their partnership with Weizmann scientists—and with one another. Asked for the secret to their lasting marriage, Rosa laughs. “It’s a lot of ‘—ation’: mediation, conciliation, aggravation, admiration, limitation …”

On the last point, Harris disagrees. “You have no limitations,” he tells her. “Rosa is the most extraordinary person.”

Culture & Community

Rosa and Harris Weinstein: Celebrating Love and Life, Thanks to a Weizmann Founder

• TAGS: Community , Philanthropy , Humanity

Harris and Rosa Weinstein, 1960s 2
Harris and Rosa Weinstein, circa 1960s.

 

With their 65th wedding anniversary approaching in June, Rosa and Harris Weinstein decided to mark the occasion with a gift to the Weizmann Institute. The couple believes deeply in the Institute’s vital mission, but their reasons are more personal. They wanted to honor Dewey Stone, one of the American Committee’s earliest visionaries who helped realize Dr. Chaim Weizmann’s dream of a world-class scientific research institution in Israel.

“It was Dewey Stone who brought our family out of Vienna in 1939,” Rosa explained. “Quite simply, had it not been for his generosity, we would not have this milestone to celebrate.”

“Had it not been for Dewey Stone’s generosity, we would not have this milestone to celebrate.”

In 1933, the year Hitler became Chancellor of the Third Reich and Austria shifted to authoritarian rule, Rosa’s father, Simon Grunberg, began making plans to escape. He was among the throngs of Austrian Jews who lined up in front of the American Embassy, hoping to gain the necessary paperwork to bring his family to the United States. At the time, however, it was difficult to secure a U.S. immigration visa.

Dewey Stone Headshot
Dewey Stone

The family’s situation became more dire after German troops entered Austria in 1938 and annexed the country, an event known as the Anschluss. Nazi leadership quickly imposed antisemitic laws, forcing the Grunbergs to close their grocery store. To make ends meet, Simon took down the shelves of the store and began making and selling trunks for those who were leaving. Still, the family fell into poverty.

“We had no money and had to eat in a soup kitchen,” Rosa said.

Simon wrote to his uncle, Moses Grunberg, who lived in Taunton, Massachusetts. Moses went to Dewey Stone, a successful businessman and charismatic leader of the Jewish community in nearby Brockton, for help.

The Grunberg Family
(L-R) Simon, Rosa, and Teme Grunberg, circa 1945.

Stone provided a guarantee of work—which allowed Simon to acquire visas for himself, his wife, Teme, and four-year-old Rosa—and $429 to pay for shipping fare. Simon, Teme, and Rosa took a train from Vienna to Trieste, Italy, and traveled to America aboard The Saturnia. They were the only members of their family who managed to escape.

In October 1939, Rosa and her parents sailed into New York Harbor. They eventually settled in Fall River, MA, where Simon obtained work with a trunk manufacturer. Sadly, Teme passed away less than 10 years later, when Rosa was 12.

As a junior in high school, Rosa met Harris Weinstein at a local Young Judea gathering.

“I was someone else’s date,” she laughed, “and he brought me to a meeting in the social hall.”

The boy happened to be a friend of Harris’s from the neighboring town of New Bedford. The meeting left an impression. When Harris was a freshman in college and returned home on a holiday break, he called Rosa. They married in 1956.

Together, they’ve lived a full and meaningful life. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MIT, Harris went on to study law at Columbia University. Rosa studied at Boston University and became a teacher. In 1961, they moved to Philadelphia, where Harris clerked for Judge William H. Hastie of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He practiced law with the firm Covington & Burlington in Washington, D.C. from 1962 until his retirement in 2009; he then taught law at Catholic University.

After raising their three children, Rosa went back to school and earned her master’s degree in liberal arts from Georgetown, where she discovered a love of anthropology. Inspired to help other lifelong learners, she founded and directed Himmelfarb Mobile University, a program of the Jewish Social Service Agency that provides college-like courses to residents of nursing and retirement homes throughout Greater Washington, D.C. The classes are taught by about 30 volunteer teachers, who include professional musicians and athletes, religious leaders, former government officials, and other experts in their fields. Thanks to Rosa’s energy and infectious enthusiasm, the program became a great success. In recognition of her work, she was honored as a 2002 “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian magazine.

Harris and Rosa Weinstein
Harris and Rosa Weinstein

 

The couple has since retired to Rancho Mirage, California, where Rosa actively volunteers with Jewish Family Service to bring educational programming to seniors. The Weinsteins also spend their time keeping up with their three grown children and six grandchildren. Their daughter, Teme, named for Rosa’s mother, is a blogger in Chicago. Their older son, Joshua, is a writer-producer in Los Angeles, having been an executive producer and showrunner of The Simpsons. Their youngest son, Jacob, is a children’s book author in London; his forthcoming picture book, What Rosa Brought, tells the story of his mother’s experience as a Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied Vienna.

Through the years, as the Weinsteins achieved both personal and professional fulfillment, they never forgot the act of generosity that made it all possible. While Rosa never had the opportunity to meet Dewey Stone, she remains grateful for his role in her family’s escape to America. In addition, Harris has his own connection: his cousin’s cousin married into the Stone family. “It was a meaningful coincidence,” Rosa said.

“The Institute’s research is creating a better world, not only for the Jewish people, but for all people.”

On the occasion of their 50th anniversary, the Weinsteins made their first gift to the Weizmann Institute in Dewey Stone’s honor: “We learned that Dewey had helped in the founding of the Institute and we thought it would be right to contribute in his name.”

The Institute’s mission of science for the benefit of humanity resonates for two people whose lives and careers have been devoted to serving others. “Even if we hadn’t known about Dewey Stone, we’d still want to support Weizmann,” Rosa said. “The Institute’s research is creating a better world, not only for the Jewish people, but for all people. It’s tikkun olam.”

Today, they’re proud to continue their partnership with Weizmann scientists—and with one another. Asked for the secret to their lasting marriage, Rosa laughs. “It’s a lot of ‘—ation’: mediation, conciliation, aggravation, admiration, limitation …”

On the last point, Harris disagrees. “You have no limitations,” he tells her. “Rosa is the most extraordinary person.”