My mother, Florence Frohman, asked one day, “So, who is going to be your next article?”
“Well, I thought since it is a May issue and it’s Mother’s Day, I’ll ask a mother,” I replied.
“There are plenty of mothers to choose from,” she said.
“Well, I only have one! So, I thought I would interview you!”
“Oh!” she exclaimed.
The New Family
The Frohman family (mom, dad, older sister Mindy and I) moved from Stratford to Hamden in 1960. We moved so dad would have a shorter commute to his new job in New Haven, where he was a lithographer. The schools in Hamden had a good reputation, the neighborhood was brand new and the Jewish community was growing, and so our new life began.
As many new members know when entering a congregation for the first time, it can be intimidating. That was not the case for mom and dad. They were greeted warmly by the Litts, the Lackmans, the Schriebers and the Kahns. These names are found imprinted on the many plaques that are hung in the front hallway of the Temple today. Word spread that the “The Frohmans” joined the Temple. The reason why there was a buzz was that my father’s grandfather was Rabbi Hillel Froman. (The story I heard about the spelling change was that the letter “h” was added when my grandfather Elias was in school. There was a popular movie star in Hollywood that spelled her name with the ‘h”.) Rabbi Froman had a cheder( a Hebrew school) in New Haven in the 1920s and 1930s. Many young boys were taught Hebrew and prepared for their Bar Mitzvahs with my great-grandfather. These young boys grew up and were now members of Temple Beth Sholom. “Froman” was a name Leo Perkes (o.b.m. – of blessed memory) and Lewis Lackman (o.b.m.) fondly remembered.
My mother became involved with the Temple from the beginning when she joined Sisterhood. She was publicity chair for the many programs which meant typing lots of articles on our Smith-Corona typewriter. Other positions mom held were Torah VP which included selling cards and organizing the Torah Fund luncheons. Mom was also part of the committee for an Antiques and Collectibles Show, that was a big undertaking and a great fundraiser for Sisterhood. She was also a Sisterhood Trustee.
“Ethel Litt (o.b.m.) was really responsible for my involvement in the synagogue. She invited me to help out with the Friday night Oneg Shabbats when she noticed that we were becoming regular “Friday nighters,” mom said. For twenty-five years, mom was one of the many dedicated volunteers. The porcelain dishes, cups, stainless steel utensils, sterling silver urns and trays were washed and dried by hand and put away in the cabinets before leaving for the evening. Ethel had another idea that my mother got involved in. Ethel suggested that Sisterhood should start a catering service that would assist the Bar and Bat Mitzvah families on Friday nights. Out came all the dishes, cups and silver again, but this time, Sisterhood benefited
monetarily. The committee was thrilled when the kitchen was updated with a professional dishwasher for the outside caterers. The dishwasher was also used on Friday nights by the Sisterhood caterers. Mom laughed as she told me that on those nights, the committee members would sit in the back row of the sanctuary and, before Alenu, there would be a “mass exodus” through the social hall to the kitchen to get ready to serve the congregants.
The beginning of the Mitzvah Committee was about thirty nine years ago. Sharon Cohen was asked by the Jewish Federation to inquire if there were interested women who would visit Jewish residents of Arden House. Mom went to the meeting with several Sisterhood members and began planning. Barbara Stein eventually took over the chairmanship and mom and many ladies (and now men) are now known as the Mitzvah Committee. One Monday a month is designated as an Entertainment program where special activities are planned that involve the Jewish residents. One Friday a month has always been the Shabbat program. Rabbi Scolnic leads a modified service for the residents. Lots of reminiscing, songs and homemade foods truly make this mitzvah special for the residents and their families. Mom assists in planning these programs. She also enjoys taking turns with Barbara writing the Mitzvah articles for the Temple Bulletin.
I asked my mother, “What would you say to new, young families?” She said, “I say, get involved-find an interest- there are
enough choices- You’ll find your niche and you’ll find that friendships last a lifetime.” “And one more thing, I hope I have been an influence on my daughters,” she added. Let’s see… your daughters were married at Temple Beth Sholom, one son-in-law and 4 grand children had their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs at the Temple, Mindy and I were Co-Presidents of Sisterhood and I am…. Well, you know the rest.
I think you did OK, Ma.