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BETWEEN THE LINES

Looking back; looking forward

These few weeks feel historic and hopeful, containing both joy and sorrow. I look back and forward, trying to balance on the moment.

Looking back: Forty-five years ago last month, Robby and I giggled our way into marriage at the Rockville County courthouse. One friend predicted, “They won’t last two weeks.” I’m so glad Nick was wrong.

Looking back: Sixty years ago next month, Ethel and Julius were executed, orphaning my sweet Robby at age six.

Looking forward: In a few days, my grandson has his first birthday. He is named for his great-grandfather Abel Meeropol, who wrote Strange Fruit and who, with his wife Anne, adopted Robby and his brother after the execution.

Looking forward: In three months, Robby will retire as Executive Director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, the foundation he started to honor his birth parents and continue their work for social justice by supporting today’s targeted activists. In September, our daughter Jenn will take over leadership of the organization that embodies her father’s constructive revenge. It delights and tickles me that one daughter litigates to protect civil liberties and the other supports targeted activists.

Looking forward: One month from today, at Town Hall in Manhattan, the Rosenberg Fund community of friends, family, and supporters will gather for “Carry it Forward,” a dramatic program to commemorate the anniversary of the execution and the RFC leadership transition. I’ll also be thinking about the generations of activists that are gone, and the generations now joining our family and our world. Read More 
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I never met my husband's biologic parents

I never met my husband’s biologic parents. They were executed twelve years before I met their son. But Ethel & Julius are a profound part of my family; their murder was a critical part of my political education.

I’ve worked alongside Robby as he sued the government under the Freedom of Information laws and as he fought to reopen his parents’ case. When he started the Rosenberg Fund for Children in 1990, I joined the RFC Board. It is now sixty years after Ethel and Julius were executed at Sing Sing. In September, Robby will retire as the RFC’s executive director, our older daughter Jenn will take over leadership of the organization, and I will resign from the Board.

But before these big changes, there’s one more thing, one more event, one more remembrance. On June 16th in New York City, Carry it Forward: Celebrate the Children of Resistance will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the execution and the legacy of resistance that Ethel and Julius left their sons, and all of us. I wrote the script for this program.

I’m primarily a novelist, but this isn’t fiction. Carry it Forward integrates the frightening past of McCarthyism and our family’s loss with current assaults on civil liberties in the name of freedom. It joins the struggles of targeted progressive activists today with our fears and dreams for the future. It fuses Ethel and Julius’ words with those of the activists who are part of the Rosenberg Fund for Children family, our beloved community of supporters and beneficiaries. Over the past 23 years, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many of these individuals, either in person or through their writing. The challenge of creating the script for this program was to bring these people alive on stage for the audience, through reading and poems and dramatic vignettes.

Please consider joining us on Sunday, June 16 at Manhattan's Town Hall to commemorate the past, nurture the present, and dream together for the future at Carry it Forward.  Read More 
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