January 17, 2020

Rosalee Glass, Holocaust Survivor, 102

Holocaust survivor Rosalee Glass died Dec. 16, following injuries she sustained on a trip to Washington, D.C., after attending the White House Hanukkah party. She was 102.

Glass was the subject of a 2018 documentary made by her daughter,  called “Reinventing Rosalee.” The film covered everything from the horrors she suffered in a Siberian prison camp to her vivacious, irrepressible joy in her 80s and beyond. It led to her being invited by President Donald Trump to his Hanukkah party on Dec. 11.

Born Raisla Talerman in 1917 in Warsaw, Poland, Glass started making men’s shirts in her teens. She became so successful that by the age of 18 she had a staff of 10. 

Around the same time, she met her husband, Abraham, a violinist. After a confrontation with Nazi soldiers, the Glasses decided to move to what they thought was the safer, Russian-controlled part of Poland. They settled in Bialystock, but soon after their first son, Elias, was born, they were arrested and sent to a prison camp in Siberia. Elias died in the camps, as did a daughter, Perla. Another son, Manny, survived, and after the war the family was sent to a displaced persons camp in Germany. 

With the help of Jewish Family Services, the Glasses immigrated to Miami in 1951. They had another daughter, Lillian, and Rosalee went back to work, starting a successful drapery business. The couple eventually moved to a retirement community in Southern California, where Abraham died at 90 in 1996. Three years later, Manny died from a botched hospital procedure.

Glass, suffering from deep depression, moved in with Lillian. But when she turned 80, she decided to live the rest of her life to the fullest. She learned to play the piano and traveled the world with her daughter. In Poland, she buried photos of relatives who died in the Holocaust and had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. 

At 90, Glass took up acting, appearing in commercials for Blue Cross, Porsche and Dodge. When she turned 100, she went riding with sled dogs in Alaska. Earlier this year, she became a movie star, walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival at a screening of “Reinventing Rosalee.”

Asked the secret of living to 100, she told Journal contributor Kylie Ora Lobell, “Have love in your heart.” 

Glass is survived by her daughter, Lillian. n