2016-11-23 / Local News

Former teacher reflects on civil-rights assembly she founded

MEET ADA ROSEN…
By JAYNE JACOVA FELD Voice staff

FAMILY: Husband Paul Gould; daughters Susan Rosen-LaBattaglia, Judith Plon and Deborah Tartell, and seven grandchildren

SYNAGOGUES: Cong. B’Nai Tikvah- Beth Israel and Temple Beth Sholom

HOBBY: Choral singing

FAVORITE FOOD: Vegetarian

FAVORITE MUSICAL: “Fiddler on the Roof”

In the same year that the governor of Arkansas used the National Guard to prevent nine black students from integrating Little Rock High School, Paulsboro High School held its first Brotherhood Assembly.

The year was 1957. As a member of the newly formed Paulsboro Mayor’s Civil Rights Commission, English teacher Ada Rosen spearheaded the program intended to promote civil-rights education. The event featured human-rights themed speeches, musical and spoken-word performances and recognition of seniors who best embodied the ideals of brotherhood: Respect, personal regard for all fellow students, and participation in student affairs.

“It seemed like the right thing to do at the time,” recalled Rosen, whose interest in human rights also spurred her later involvement with the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Southern New Jersey.

Nearly six decades later, the Brotherhood Assembly lives on. In fact, it has become a defining tradition of Paulsboro High School that has drawn big-name speakers to the small Gloucester County town on the banks of the Delaware River. Among those who have keynoted the event are numerous politicians, including two congressmen who would go on to be governors: William P. Cahill and James J. Florio. Philly Tug McGraw visited in 1987. There have been college professors, journalists, other professional athletes and coaches in the mix.

Winning the Brotherhood Award remains the most respected designation one can achieve as a Paulsboro student.

Although Rosen retired in 1991, passing the baton to other committed teachers, she has returned annually for the assembly. And as preparations are underway to mark both the high school’s centennial and the assembly’s 60th anniversary next year, she got a taste of the excitement to come when she was asked to be homecoming-day parade Grand Marshall on Oct. 28. It was unexpected and quite an honor, she said.

During the parade, Rosen, who raised her three daughters with the late David Rosen in Paulsboro, rode in a convertible through familiar roads, waving like a celebrity. A cheerleader escorted her onto the football field for halftime festivities.

“It was a beautiful day,” recalled Rosen, who now lives in Cherry Hill with her husband of 11 years, Paul Gould.

Rosen, who shared her file of news clips predating the Internet with the Voice, said she was grateful that the program she started so long ago is still relevant today.

Among her many commendations, in 1992, she received the New Jersey Education Association Dr. Martin Luther King Award for contributions to human and civil rights. During her career, she met the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Elie Wiesel.

“When you start something as a teacher, you don’t consider what’s going to become of it in the future,” she said. “It was important then and I enjoyed doing it. Suddenly, the years go by and it’s a tradition. Teaching human rights and values is so important. Hopefully, it will continue. “ s

Return to top