A Window Into the Jewish American Experience During a Monthlong Celebration
Since 1654, when 23 Jewish refugees arrived by ship in what is now New York City, Americans of the Jewish faith and cultural heritage have contributed to the establishment, development and ongoing success of our country. Jewish American Heritage Month, observed each May since 2006 (and from 1980 through 2005 as Jewish American Week), celebrates those contributions and encourages all Americans to learn more about Jewish history, culture and tradition.
At CoolSys, we’re proud of the diversity of our workforce, including those of the Jewish faith and tradition. In that spirit, we’re pleased to introduce Ben Rosenzweig, vice president of operations for CoolSys Energy Design. A mechanical engineer by training, Ben has worked for CoolSys since July 2018 — and for two years before that for Energy Squared before it was acquired by CoolSys.
A Proud History and Heritage
Ben says his personal experience represents today’s typical American Jew. He grew up going to a conservative Jewish synagogue for the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in his native New Jersey and attended Hebrew school until his bar mitzvah at age 13. However, Ben’s family was not particularly observant from a religious standpoint. Nevertheless, their Jewish heritage and culture were and are precious to them.
“All of the things in my heritage as a Jew stem from adversity and a very tough history on the planet,” he says. “And with that comes being very proud. My grandfather, my father and I are all very proud to be Jewish Americans, and I consider it important to continue that tradition when I have children.”
Ethnically, Ben is an Ashkenazi Jew, which means his ancestry is in Eastern Europe. Specifically, his family is from Poland and Russia. Among Ben’s fondest memories are the big family meals at the holidays, featuring foods like brisket, stuffed cabbage and latkes (a type of potato pancake). “The best thing about being Jewish is getting together with family,” he says.
When Ben married his wife, Abby, three years ago, it was in a traditional Jewish ceremony. Among the many special moments at the event, the couple signed their ketubah, a traditional Jewish marriage contract (see the photo with this story) then stood under a traditional chuppah (canopy) during their ceremony. Today, Ben and Abby live in Abby’s hometown of Los Angeles, where they continue to enjoy taking part in Jewish traditions with her family — and soaking in the Southern California climate during outdoor Shabbat (sabbath) services on Friday nights.
Get a Taste of Jewish Culture and Tradition
Jewish American Heritage Month is a great time to learn more about Jewish history, culture and tradition. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- Read President Biden’s Proclamation on Jewish American Heritage Month.
- Listen to traditional Jewish music on Jewish Radio Network.
- Visit the Jewish Food Society website to learn about Jewish cooking and make some traditional Jewish dishes.
- Learn a few words in Yiddish, the traditional language of European Jews.
- Read about Jewish religious holidays and their significance.