Sad news from our friend Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi who sent us the following rememberance:
Sheryl A. Rosenthal, 50, co-founder of the Washington District of Columbia Jewish Community Center’s Community Service Program died Tuesday, January 5, 2010. Sheryl’s vision and persistence initiated a program where Jewish volunteers went regularly to visit AIDS babies at DC General Hospital. At the time most people with AIDs had a short life expectancy. Many wrongly thought that AIDS could be easily caught by touching someone’s skin. Thus, AIDS babies – often children of parents who got AIDs through infected needles – were all too often abandoned.
Sheryl loved children. Her goal in the program was to show these babies love and warmth – no matter their potential life expectancy. She worked with the hospital to get them to allow the volunteers to come – not such an easy task. Then she recruited volunteers and went through the challenging process of explaining that the risks of volunteers getting AIDS from holding the babies was not real. Sheryl planned activities and got stuffed animals to give out to the kids. She created warmth and love for babies whose existence basically was one of cold white rooms in a sad public hospital for poor people. Because of Sheryl these babies had a little dignity, some great hugs and smiles in their lives. She made a real difference. She showed them that they mattered.
During Sheryl’s involvement in the Washington DCJCC Community Service Program it was recognized as a “Best Program in North America” by Moment Magazine. It also was made a “Point of Light” by President George H.W. Bush. To Sheryl though it was just a part of her way of making the world a better place.
May her family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
May her memory be for a blessing.