Holocaust Museum Curator, Writer Dies at 89

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Philip Rosen read the newspaper every day.

“Before CNN became CNN, you could have a conversation with my father and understand everything that was going on in current events,” his daughter, Serena Rosen, said. “He combed The New York Times every day, as well as The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Exponent, the Jewish Voice. [He was] very well-read, amazingly academic, interested in all aspects of what was going on in the Middle East.”

On July 21, Rosen died of a heart attack. He was 89 years old.


Philip Rosen | Photo provided

Those who knew Philip Rosen remember him for his academic mind and his interest in history and current events.

Rosen worked as an educator his entire life, on the elementary to the high school and then academic levels. His interest was mostly in teaching history, especially of the Holocaust, about which he co-wrote two books, Bearing Witness: A Resource Guide to Literature, Poetry, Art, Music, and Videos by Holocaust Victims and Survivors and Dictionary of the Holocaust: Biography, Geography, and Terminology. He also served as educational director and curator of what is now the Esther Raab Holocaust Museum and Goodwin Education Center in Cherry Hill, N.J., until 2001.

Rosen’s career began in the School District of Philadelphia, where he taught at several schools between 1951 and 1987. His students, Serena Rosen said, either loved him or hated him.

He had bachelor’s and master’s degrees in secondary  and elementary education, respectively. His wife, Lillian Schachter Rosen, said his goal was to earn his doctorate. He did so in history from Carnegie Mellon University in 1972.

“He became Dr. Philip Rosen, which was his aim in life,” she said.

In the late ’80s and throughout the ’90s, Rosen worked as an adjunct professor at Gratz College, where he also directed a Holocaust museum. He eventually moved the museum to Cherry Hill.

Rosen believed that making The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank the focus of Holocaust teaching in schools was too limited.

“The students are ignorant of the murderous Nazi worldview, the ghettoes, deportation, concentration camps, and Jewish resistance as well as the failure to rescue,” he wrote in a paper titled “Beyond Anne Frank.” “However, it is not the purpose of the paper to broaden the scope to just the above, but to raise the question as whether Holocaust education should also include other victims of Nazi barbarism, particularly the handicapped, the Gypsies, the homosexuals, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Slavic peoples.”

Israel was also an issue important to Rosen. It influenced his volunteer work, as he was active with the Zionist Organization of America and the American Jewish Committee, where he played a part in the Bucks County Christian Coalition to support the Jewish state.

“He’s made me into the best possible person that I can be,” Serena Rosen said. “My Hebrew studies, my customs and ceremonies with Judaism, my tennis ability — it’s all from him. Everything is from him.”

Philip Rosen is survived by his wife, Lillian Schachter Rosen, and his daughters, Serena and Ruth Rosen. 

szighelboim@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0729

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