Love has no real boundaries or borders, as this couple discovered.
Edward Rosenblatt grew up in the South Bronx, and after serving in the Army during the Korean War and attending City College, he began working at his father’s clothing store in the East Bronx. "The neighborhood was about 98 percent Jewish," Ed recalls. "And the store was right across the street from Jake the Pickle Man, a pretty famous guy in those parts." Even after the neighborhood changed, the family kept the business running and Ed became partners with his father.>
From left, Ed and Libby Rosenblatt, granddaughter Noa Marcus, daughter Dr. Debra Rosenblatt (Marcus), granddaughter Samara Marcus, grandson Daniel Marcus, and son-in-law Michael Marcus at Samara’s Bat Mitzvah at the Masada, August ‘007.
In 1956, a friend of Ed’s wanted to visit Montreal, and he convinced Ed to take a break and drive up with him. While they were there, a local suggested they visit the Laurentian Mountains, a short drive away. "They were like the Catskills," Ed says. "There was even a big kosher resort called The Chalet, where we stayed. At night they had an orchestra and dancing. My friend and I finally asked two girls to dance. I remember they were playing the hits from back then, ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ and ‘Canadian Sunset.’"
As it turned out, both songs were very prophetic, because Ed was smitten with his dance partner, Loretta or Libbie Feldt. When he found out she was going back to Toronto the next day, he asked for her phone number, in no way deterred that she lived so far from New York.
Libby had been born in Montreal and was living in Forest Hills, a suburb of Toronto. Her family was among the many Jews who immigrated to Canada from Eastern Europe at the end of World War II. After attending business college she found a good job with a brokerage firm in the city’s equivalent of Wall Street.
Ed pursued her, flying up to visit every other week or so. "My first time there, " he says "I was expecting it to be really cold it was Canada, after all. So I bundled up even though it was July, and when I got off the plane, it was as hot as the Bronx. I was asking, ‘Where’s the snow, where are the sled dogs?’ Libby’s dad looked at her and said, ‘You picked a winner.’"
So Ed met her family and was drawn into their lives. One time they asked if he played poker, and when he said yes, "Out comes the green head shade and the poker table. One cousin shuffled the cards like a Vegas dealer. I felt like an amateur." But Ed was not going to be put off, and the visits and phone calls continued. He also wrote her a letter every day. "Still, those flights started to get expensive, so my brother said either buy the airline or marry her," Ed says with a grin.
So six months after they met, the couple got engaged. They were married in 1957 at Beth Sholom, one of the larger synagogues in Toronto. Afterward, Libby moved to New York. The couple found a reasonably priced apartment in the North Bronx, where they lived for five years. After their two children, Debra and Larry, were born, the Rosenblatts decided it was time to look for a house, and although they considered Great Neck, Ed says it didn’t feel quite right. They ended up in Fair Lawn, with two schools practically across the street, in a house they’ve lived in for 45 years. After checking out the nearby synagogues, they joined Cong. B’nai Israel.
Libby stayed busy raising the kids, while Ed ran the clothing store. But by 1975, Ed’s business was having a run of bad luck. The building it was in burned down as a result of racial unrest in the neighborhood. He relocated a few blocks down and four months later, that building burned as well. He and his wife decided to take advantage of the new craze for blue jeans and began selling them out of their basement. When zoning laws made this scheme unworkable, he got together with two of the other burned-out businessmen and they leased a former A&P on ’00th Street in the Bronx, reopening it as a C-Town.
Ed eventually found he had more time to volunteer at the synagogue. He started out on the board and became vice president in 1976 and then president three times. In ’00’ he stepped down. The congregation was getting smaller, and the decision was made for the shul to merge with the Fair Lawn Jewish Center. "It was very difficult," he explains. "But it all worked out and we were able to keep our identity."
The Rosenblatts are close to both their children. "From the age of 9, Debby said she wanted to be a dentist," Ed relates. "She graduated from high school at 15 and a half, and by ” she had her degree in dentistry." She lives in Franklin Lakes with her husband and three children. Larry works in electronics.
The couple celebrated their 50th anniversary last month and are planning a cruise to mark the occasion. Of their marriage of five decades, Ed says, "Libby is the best. She has great feeling for me and our children. She is the most important thing in my life."
Libby adds, "Ed was my friend and companion in a marriage made in heaven, and we hope the coming years are as good as the last 50."
Nancy Butler is the author of 1′ Regency romances, three nonfiction titles (including "The Quotable Lover," Lyons Press), and three novellas, and has twice won the prestigious RITA from the Romance Writers of America.
Did you and your bashert Yiddish for "intended" meet in an interesting or unusual way? Do you have a love story to tell? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and your story may be included in this column.