RFC Loses Staunch Supporters

By Robert Meeropol, RFC Founder

The COVID-19 pandemic has sadly taken the lives of two vibrant, long-time supporters with special ties to the RFC; and a third beloved member of our community died this spring after battling numerous health issues. While we mourn their loss, we celebrate their remarkable lives and commitment to the fight for a more just world

I knew David Bernstein for more than 50 years. The two of us were living in a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) group house in Ann Arbor when my future wife, Elli, came to live with me in 1968. David and his wife, Paula Rabinowitz, held RFC fundraisers and generously hosted me in their Minneapolis house over the years. David’s sister Judi and her husband, Karl Baker, also put me up and held events in Philadelphia. I believe David and Judi were the only brother-sister team to each hold RFC fundraising events in their homes. David was--and Paula, Judi and Karl remain--at the heart of the RFC community. David’s New York Times obituary described him well: “Ex-calculus teacher, lifelong political radical and multi-talented theater worker, he shaped many lives around the globe.” David was 78.

Perry Rosenstein was the RFC’s most significant cultural supporter. He was a fierce champion of an array of projects and movements supporting economic and social justice. Perry was the President and Founder, along with his wife, Gladys, of The Puffin Foundation. Puffin has provided underwriting support for almost every RFC major cultural program. We would have had great difficulty producing our signature “Celebrate the Children of Resistance” program in New York, Boston, Berkeley and here in Northampton, MA without this aid. Gladys and Perry also sponsored RFC programs I attended at the Puffin Room in Teaneck, New Jersey, and the Puffin Gallery in Manhattan’s Soho district. Collaborating with Gladys and Perry on cultural projects was a pleasure and one of the perks I experienced during my years as the RFC’s Executive Director. Perry was 94 (you can learn more about Perry's extraordinary life and legacy here).

I first crossed paths with Frances Goldin in 1995 when I became involved in the campaign to save Mumia Abu-Jamal, the first political prisoner to face execution since my parents. Frances was his literary agent. As noted in her obituary, “Barbara Kingsolver chose Ms. Goldin on the basis of her advertisement that read, ‘I do not represent any material that is sexist, ageist or gratuitously violent.’” She quickly became a staunch RFC supporter and later, when I wrote An Execution in the Family, my literary agent. She was a legendary Lower East Side rent control organizer who spearheaded the campaign to save her neighborhood from one of Robert Mosses’ freeways and what he called “slum clearance” in the late 1950’s. She died in the rent-controlled apartment she lived in for 40 years. Frances was 95.

With the COVID-19 death toll well over 150,000 as I write this, we know that many members of our community have suffered devastating loses. We mourn with them and share their loss.