Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

A walk to remember Bunny Rosen


Bunny Rosen

"Bunny Rosen was an irreplaceable friend of the Jewish Pavilion, and it is our honor to walk in her name at the Pavilion's 4th Annual " A Walk in the Park," taking place on Sunday, Oct. 26 at Crane's Roost Park," stated Executive Director Nancy Ludin. "We are grateful to Bunny's family, Melissa and Sandy Masin, for co-sponsoring the event in her memory."

Although she has been gone for more than a year, Rosen's legacy lives on throughout Jewish Orlando. The 84-year-old dynamo of volunteerism, was active with the Jewish Pavilion, Hadassah and Congregation Ohev Shalom right up until her death in the summer of 2013.

"Bunny Rosen left an indelible footprint on the Pavilion," noted Ludin. "She lived by the motto 'A friend in need is a friend indeed.' She was an advocate for our seniors since the inception of our agency, and never shied away from a challenge or a job that needed to be done. Bunny followed through everything she began, and even called and made arrangements to select the menu at a December luncheon that took place after she passed."

In a recent interview, Melissa Masin shared that Bunny's legacy can be found in the lives that she touched, not in the things she left behind. She stated, "My mother valued people above objects. I will always cherish her memory. "

She continued, "My mother is right here," as she pointed towards her heart. "My mother can't be found in any one object that she left behind. Her family and friends were what she held dear."

The two women were very close and spoke daily. Shabbat dinner was a time when the entire family came together, and Rosen would prepare her famous brisket and kugel for Melissa, son-in-law, Sandy, and grandchildren, Hunter and Carleigh. Masin shared that although her mother was an amazing cook, she had few recipes to pass down. She recounted, "My mother's recipes varied. She wasted nothing, and threw in whatever she had available each week. What remained constant was the love and care she put into everything she did." Masin added, "My mother would begin preparing for Shabbat at the beginning of each week. Then, she loaded up all her preparations (including her dog, Bagel) into her car each Friday night, and transported them to our house. She would call and let us know she was on her way. After two honks, we were all out in the driveway ready to help."

Sandy Masin revealed that Shabbat dinners have not been the same since his mother-in-law has passed. He noted that he and Rosen were very close, and that he missed their conversations about politics and world events, stating, "Bunny read the paper daily, and she was well versed in national and foreign affairs. She received an exceptional education growing up in Europe, and talking to her was like reading the New York Times."

Sandy remembered an occasion when Bunny was visiting, and he was able to pick up a live radio broadcast from her hometown of Cologne, Germany, where Rosen was born in 1929. Rosen had not heard a live German broadcast since her family fled to Belgium when she was just seven years old.

"Computers and technology were just about the only thing Bunny had not mastered," Sandy stated. "Very little phased Bunny, but when the broadcast began, she looked at me with a sense of wonder. It was as if I had created some sort of magic that had brought her hometown into our living room."

Sandy continued, "I asked her if she was angry at the Germans for driving her from her home (and the ensuing events of World War II). I was impressed and amazed by her thoughtfulness and compassion when she said that she had forgiven what was in the past."

Sandy sees Bunny's legacy in his two children. "Our son, Hunter, is a man of few words, but like Bunny, he makes his words count." He believes that daughter, Carleigh, gets her sense of compassion from her grandmother. He stated, "Bunny believed in being charitable because it was the right thing to do, and gave quietly, never asking for anything in return."

Sandy shared that he was in a pastry shop with Carleigh when a family walked in with several children with disfigurements from severe burns. Many patrons left the shop in discomfort, but not Carleigh. She walked right up to one the kids and started talking to them, and even made them smile. Sandy revealed, "Bunny would have done the same thing. In that instance I saw Bunny's legacy in Carleigh."

At a recent meeting, members of the Friend's Board of the Jewish Pavilion reminisced about Rosen, and shared "Bunny tales," or anecdotes about their old friend and her extraordinary impact. Ruth Darvin, current president of the Friend's Board, shared that she and Rosen both moved to Orlando in 1982, and became one another's first friends in Central Florida after meeting through the National Council of Jewish Women. Karen Selznick noted that Bunny was there for her when her mother passed away more than a decade ago. She stated, "After my mother died, Bunny taught me how to say the Kaddish. She said she would stand with me as long as I stood with her daughter when it came her time to pass." Pat Rubenstein remarked that Bunny would save her a seat at each Friend's meeting. She stated, "To this day I sit in the same seat that Bunny chose, a place where I am reminded of both her presence and her absence."

Nancy Ludin recalled that Bunny was a one-woman welcoming committee to new members of the community. "At the time my mother moved to Orlando, Bunny was an acquaintance. I asked her to contact my mother, Gloria Newberger. Bunny asked me, 'Does your mother like to eat?' When I said 'yes,' that was the end of her questioning. She arranged for my mother to go out with a group of her women friends for dinner, and thus the 'Bunny Club' was formed," Ludin shared.

The friends continued to dine monthly for the next decade. The Bunny Club met most recently in May to celebrate Bunny Rosen's birth date, and to reminisce about old times. According to Newberger, members of the Bunny Club have decided to reconvene each year at Rosen's favorite restaurant, Palma Maria Italian Restaurant in Casselberry.

Ludin continued, "When I came to the Jewish Pavilion, Bunny and I became fast friends. She arranged for the pricing, menus and seating at all of our luncheons and galas." Pavilion Friend Susie Stone added, "Bunny was always in charge of the food. She handled it better than anyone. Whether it was Ohev, Hadassah, or the Pavilion, Bunny was always in charge."

Carol Feuerman, president of the Pavilion board, noted that Bunny Rosen had been instrumental throughout the history of the Pavilion. She stated, "In the early days of the Pavilion, Bunny would go up to anyone she knew, and even those she didn't know quite yet, and ask them for their $36 membership fee. These small steps added up and helped get the Pavilion off on the right foot back in 2000."

Footprints along the path of the 4th Annual "Walk in the Park" can be purchased in Bunny's or anyone's memory for $50 or three for $100; a high heel can be purchased for $365. Visit the jewishpavilion.org for more details or call Susan at 407-678-9363.

The 4th Annual "A Walk in the Park" honoring Bunny Rosen begins at 9:30 a.m. and continues until noon at Crane's Roost Park in Altamonte Springs. There will be a Community Expo with free food, a Kid's Zone, live entertainment, health screenings, give-a-ways and more. For more information, contact the jewishpavilion.org or call Nancy or Susan at 407-678-9363.


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