Photo: Edward and Shirley Rosenberg in the JCC recreation complex named for them.

Daughter recalls her father’s poem about long-ago flooding

The Jewish News
Keri Cohen

Keri Cohen

When Marlene Rosenberg of Bloomfield Hills was at a dinner party a few weeks ago amid the height of flooding in Houston during Hurricane Harvey, the discussion turned to the natural disaster.

Rosenberg surprised her friends by reciting a poem.

The words to the poignant, rhyming poem were written by her father, Edward Rosenberg, in reaction to the flooding of the Mississippi River when he was about 15 years old.

“When I was in my 20s, he pulled out a piece of paper with the poem written in pencil,” Marlene said. “He read it to me and I told him I would memorize it so I’d have it forever. It was that profound.”

She took the paper and copied the poem, which she then committed to memory.

“I’d never, ever recited the poem before that night when we were talking about the flooding in Texas,” she said. “Everyone loved it and wanted a copy. They were amazed I’d memorized it.”
Then came Hurricane Irma and the flooding in Florida. Rosenberg recited it again at a dinner party to rave reviews. And she’s read it on Jackie Kallen’s “The Voice of Reason” radio show. She was urged to share the poem with the JN.

Edward and Shirley Rosenberg in the JCC recreation complex named for them.

The grown-up Edward Rosenberg has appeared many times in the JN. A lifelong Detroiter whose family started Family Building Supply, he and his wife, Shirley, are perhaps best known in the Jewish community for the recreation complex at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield that bears their names and was dedicated in1989.

Here are the words of the young Edward Rosenberg (1919-2009):

“The Flood”
A swirling mass of water
of yellow black and white
A house once pressed to Nature’s breast
Now floating out of sight
People huddled on roof tops
Their faces grim and bleak
Staring helplessly into the water
Which makes them feel so weak
Water once so peaceful, water once so blue
Is now an agent of nature
carrying death and disease to you
Tons and tons of water in a mad deluge
Thousands and thousands of people looking for refuge
Can man stop it?
At this I must reply
For to think that man can outwit nature
Is something we must deny.

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