Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Friday,
Aug 01st
Home IJN Special Sections Generations Polio Journals: Its devastating effects on a Jewish woman and her family

Polio Journals: Its devastating effects on a Jewish woman and her family

E-mail Print PDF

A week after returning from her mother’s funeral in 1985, Anne Gross received a package at her home in Denver. She carried it to the kitchen table, opened it and swallowed her disbelief.

The package contained journals written by her mother chronicling her lifetime battle with polio and its attendant shame — raw emotions she never shared with her

daughter. Carol Rosenstiel contracted polio in 1927 at the age of two. Paralyzed from the waist down, she married, had two children, mastered the harpsichord and recorded with Igor

Stravinsky. What sounds like an exemplary victory over physical limitations was actually an unspoken plea for acceptance in an unaccommodating world.

“This was a time when polio victims didn’t venture outside their houses,” Gross tells the Intermountain Jewish News.

“People blamed the victims. Disability was shameful, and my grandparents were very ashamed. This was the prevailing attitude toward disabilities. “My grandparents, Isadore ‘Iz’ and Evelyn Greenfeld, took the lessons they learned from being Eastern European Jews — downplaying their religion, hiding their vulnerabilities — and silenced all issues relating to my mother’s condition.

“But I think they were extreme, because they never talked to her about it at all. She was forced to live as if her paralysis was a minor impediment.”

Gross mentions a family anecdote that illustrates the intergenerational thread of shame and secrecy.

“My grandfather rose from using a pushcart to being the owner of his own clothing manufacturing company,” she says. “But early in his marriage he lost his job and didn’t tell his wife.

“Every day he left the house as if he were going to work, sat on a park bench until it was time to go home and then told my grandmother what happened at work.”

The rest of this article is available in the IJN's print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at (303) 861-2234 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated ( Friday, 01 July 2011 11:33 )  

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Obama still wants cease-fire, faults Hamas for its rupture

Ron Kampeas President Obama said his team would continue to pursue a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, but faulted the militant group for violating the one in place with its apparent capture of an Israeli sold... [Link]

National Jewish security arm calls for enhanced security

Ron Kampeas The security arm of national U.S. Jewish groups called on Jewish institutions to enhance security because of a spate of attacks on Jewish targets in Europe in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict in ... [Link]

From the Archive: A Jewish tunnel to Israel

Julie Wiener Hamas wasn’t the first group to build tunnels in order to enter Israel. ... [Link]

Times of Israel, 5 Towns paper, remove posting pondering genocide in Gaza

Ron Kampeas The Times of Israel and the 5 Towns Jewish Times removed a blog post calling for genocide to be considered as an option in the Gaza conflict and the Times of Israel dropped the blogger. ... [Link]

The dilemma of Israel’s captured soldier

Uriel Heilman How will the Gilad Shalit experience influence how Israel deals with Hamas’ capture of Lt. Hadar Goldin? ... [Link]

Kerry calls for ‘immediate, unconditional’ release of soldier

Ron Kampeas U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Hamas must “immediately and unconditionally” release the soldier it apparently captured during a cease-fire. ... [Link]

Children suspected of vandalizing Jewish, Christian tombstones near Paris

Cnaan Liphshiz Children aged 11 and 13 are suspected of vandalizing at least 15 Jewish tombstones and six Christian ones at a cemetery near the French capital. ... [Link]

Lawyers of suspected Brussels shooter shown performing quenelle

Cnaan Liphshiz Attorneys representing the suspected killer of four people in Belgium’s Jewish museum posed for a picture while performing the quenelle gesture, which many believe is an anti-Semitic salute. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com