2010-12-24 / Community

Rockaway Resident Skis And Discovers In Chile

By Carolyn Rushefsky Special To The Wave

Joy Rosenberg discussed her Chilean adventure at Temple Beth El. Joy Rosenberg discussed her Chilean adventure at Temple Beth El. Joy Rosenberg packed up her skis along with her winter clothes on a sweltering day last August – and headed to the snow-covered Andes Mountains in Chile.

After an 11-hour flight to Santiago, and an hour’s drive up the Andes to an altitude of 10,000 feet, she arrived at Valle Nevado, South America’s largest ski resort. Soon, the Belle Harbor resident and 15 others in her American ski club were schussing down the slopes.

“I ski with my family every winter in the Rocky Mountains, but it’s been a lifelong dream of mine to ski in summer,” Rosenberg said during her talk at a meeting December 9 of the Sisterhood of Temple Beth El, Rockaway Park.

“We left a sweltering heat wave behind us, and were greeted with cloudless blue skies and abundant sun shining down on magnificent mountains buried in tons of pristine white snow,” said Rosenberg, who illustrated her talk with video photos of her skiing adventure.

Actually, the Belle Harbor resident had a dual mission during last summer’s nine-day trip during the Chilean winter. As a docent who leads tours at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan, she had led a Spanish-speaking tour of high school exchange students from Chile last January (as part of the New Jerseybased Solomon Schechter Hebrew School exchange program with the Hebrew Institute in Santiago).

Wanting information about the Jewish population in Chile on behalf of the museum, Rosenberg got in touch via e-mail with the Spanish students’ teacher, Perla Sternmann, who promised to give her a tour of Jewish communities in Chile.

The museum welcomes information about Jewish communities all over the world, explained Rosenberg, who has a doctorate in pharmacology and who teaches pharmacy courses at Long Island University, Brooklyn.

“Perla showed me around the 80- year-old conservative Chaim Weitzman School, where she taught Jewish history for 25 years,” she said.

Chile became home to many Holocaust survivors, Jewish refugees and their descendents, including the designer and developer of the Valle Nevado Ski resort, the late Eduardo Stern Honig, Rosenberg continued. “In an unexpected turn of events, my ski instructor was Eduardo’s son, Alberto Stern Britzmann, who related the amazing story of his maternal and paternal grandparents’ escape from Nazi Germany in 1939.”

“I also met with Alejandra Morales Stekel … co-director of a foundation that does visual testimonies of living Holocaust survivors in Chile. She accesses the official Chilean government archives for additional information and some receive assistance from … a local charitable social service for Jewish survivors,” she said.

She also toured the Maimonides school of 300 students that services the Modern Orthodox community, as well as the new conservative Santiago synagogue and community center.

In addition, Rosenberg met and addressed the current group of 30 American Exchange students from the New Jersey-based Solomon Schechter School. “Hopefully, our museum ‘family’ will be enlarged and enriched by this wonderful interaction with the vibrant Jewish community of Chile,” she said.

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