I’m blessed to have had two mothers: my biological mother, who gave me life and Dorothy Roth, my surrogate mother, who gave me direction in my life.  My two mothers grew up together as friends in Cape Town, South Africa.


I first remember meeting Dorothy when she visited her relatives on one of her many visits to South Africa.  I met Yolanda when I was 15 and she was a young doctor studying at the University of Cape Town.  Later, as a high school exchange student in Iowa, Dorothy came to visit me after visiting Lydia in Minnesota.  I was 18 and I expressed my desire to attend college in the United States.

 

In true Dorothy style, she made it her mission to help me achieve my goal.  She convinced the Director of Admission at Muhleberg College to give me a semester to prove myself – even though I had only average grades and SAT scores.

 

From then on, she and Saul made me feel like I was part of the family.  With Muhlenberg being only a few blocks away from their home on the corner of 24th and Tilghman.   She gave my parents peace of mind that their son had a “Home away from home”.

 

I have many fond memories of spending Shabbat and many Jewish holidays at their home.  It was a very warm and spiritual home.  I remember walking with Saul to and from services at Sons of Israel.  Dorothy would proudly introduce me as her surrogate son and the feeling was mutual.

 

During my years at Muhlenberg she nurtured and challenged me. I would not be who I am today if it were not for Dorothy’s love, caring, concern and guidance.  She showed me, through her own example, to stand up for myself, for what’s right and just and for others.

 

Through her love and sometimes tough-love she showed me direction.  Not any direction – True North!  Direction with purpose, a pathway to self-discovery, personal growth and greater understanding and maturity.

 

Even after I moved to New York from Allentown and then later to California – we remained very close and even grew closer together – like a Mother and a Son.  We would talk on the phone, send emails to each other and when March would come around, there would be a flurry of Birthday phone calls. (Both Dorothy and Saul’s birthdays were both in March – Yolanda and I share the same birthday in March and I believe there are others in the family with birthdays around the same time).

 

I shared many simchas and happy occasions with the family – attending Weddings, Anniversaries, Bar Mitzvahs, as well as sad occasions – Saul’s funeral and today.

 

A few weeks ago I enjoyed my conversation with Dorothy on the phone.  We were checking in with each other.  She jokingly told me that “getting old was not for sissies” and inquired about my life and family in San Diego.  Just listening to her voice was a reminder to always be true to myself.  We talk about happy times and the future. 

 

Every few years I would return to Allentown for my reunion at Muhlenberg.  Each time I returned, Dorothy and I would get together.  A few weeks ago I reminded her that my 25th college reunion was coming up next May and we would get together and talk.  I told her that I reserved a dance with her.

 

We both looked forward to that very much.  I’m sad that that won’t happen.  But I’m filled with the spirit of Dorothy and gratitude to her. She will live on through me and her children, grandchildren, and everyone who was blessed to know her.

 

Shalom Ima Shalom.