Aaron Rosloff, the Kendall Park resident who gained fame by skydiving for charity beginning on his 90th birthday, was remembered as a fixture at his synagogue and a tireless advocate for his community.
Rosloff, 92, died Oct. 17 at the Merwick Care and Rehab Center in Plainsboro. His Oct. 20 funeral at Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick drew more than 400 mourners, the largest funeral there since Rabbi Robert Wolkoff took over the pulpit more than seven years ago.
“We’ve heard the expression ‘larger than life,’” said Wolkoff. “Aaron really was. There is an expression ish mofet, a person who exemplifies his own life through the philosophy he espouses. Aaron was a person who profoundly embraced life in everything he did whether it was celebration, or community service, or the way he did business.”
Born in Manhattan, Rosloff grew up in the Bronx and lived in Kendall Park for 54 years.
He was a sergeant and airplane mechanic in the Army Air Corps during World War II from 1942 to 1946, one part of an enduring fascination with planes and flying.
Rosloff fulfilled a lifelong dream when he made his first successful skydive two years ago at age 90, raising money for the South Brunswick Food Pantry. After Rosloff broke his ankle on the next year’s jump, the synagogue — in conjunction with the South Brunswick Social Services Department — started the Stop Aaron campaign, raising money to keep the high-flying philanthropist from making his next jump.
The successful campaign brought in $6,829 for the pantry, including $1,000 from Rosloff himself.
The campaign made the nonagenarian into something of a media rock star after a number of print and media news outlets picked up on the story after it appeared in NJJN.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with it,” he said at the time. “But one thing bothers me about this whole thing: It’s become all about me rather than the food pantry.”
Although Stop Aaron was planned as an annual event, Rosloff had vowed in an interview with NJJN that it would not prevent him from jumping on his 95th birthday.
Rosloff was a well-known figure at B’nai Tikvah, where he was a founding and longtime member of the board and a founder of the Rejoice Jewish Music and Culture Festival.
He was also a founding member and past president of Temple Beth Shalom, which merged in 1981 with Congregation Sharri Shalom, and the North Brunswick Jewish Community Center to form B’nai Tikvah.
Rosloff was director and officer of South Brunswick Community Development Corporation, vice president of Oak Woods, Inc., and was a member of South Brunswick Board of Health and Recreation Committee.
In addition to the food pantry, he was a member of the Appletini Men’s Group, an avid supporter of Charleston Place Senior Citizens Housing, and numerous other civic organizations.
“Everybody in the congregation mourns him, but nevertheless feels his presence so strongly it’s almost as if he hasn’t gone, the force of his life was so profound,” said Wolkoff.
Rosloff was predeceased by his parents Alexander and Fanny Rosloff, his brother Joseph Rosloff, and his wife, Mili Rosloff. He is survived by a daughter, Risa Lotto; sons Jay and his wife, Beth, and Curt and his wife Edna; brother Reuben and his wife, Blanche; and his sister-in-law Ruth Rosloff. He also leaves grandchildren Guri and Shira Lotto; Daniel, Benjamin, and Abraham Rosloff; three great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Rosloff was buried at Washington Cemetery, South Brunswick. Arrangements were by Crabiel Parkwest Funeral Chapel, New Brunswick.
Memorial donations may be made to the rabbi’s discretionary fund of B’nai Tikvah.
A continual presence at most synagogue functions, Rosloff also wrote a monthly column for its bulletin, “Hakol,” for many years. His last column, which appeared posthumously in the November issue, was about the principle of tikun olam, or repairing the world. “Wherever Jews have lived, and since we settled in America in numbers, we have tried to take care of not only our own, but have worked toward establishing health and care facilities for everyone,” he wrote.
The congregation has about six more columns in reserve, which will be published over the next months, said Wolkoff. Afterward, the synagogue will probably compile all the columns into a memorial book. One idea being considered is to sell copies of the book — and donate the proceeds to one of Rosloff’s favorite causes.