Sol Rosenberg, D. Eng. Sci, was born as Shlomo Gelbard in Olkhovatka, Russia, near the Ukrainian border. He arrived on U.S. shores in December of 1947, at the age of 2½, with his widowed mother. Only decades later did Rosenberg discover that his father had tragically died in late 1944 while rescuing a fellow Jew during an explosion in a sugar beet factory in the town where he was born. His mother and extended family survived the Holocaust in Russia because they retained their Polish citizenship.
Adopting the name of his mother’s new husband, an Auschwitz survivor, Rosenberg and family moved to an apartment on Riverside Drive near Columbia University, where he lived until he married. It was from that apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that Rosenberg discovered and pursued his two great passions: electronics and classical music.
Fortuitously, the incinerator closet on his floor in the apartment building often provided Rosenberg with discarded copies of National Geographic, Popular Electronics and Popular Mechanics magazines, and occasionally old phonograph records. These led to his interest in the workings of electrical circuits and radio waves. To supplement his curiosity, he also availed himself of the offerings of the Seward Park Library near the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva (RJJ), which he attended from fourth grade.
As he grew older, with half a day off on Fridays, he would regularly travel by subway to the electronic supply stores on Cortland Street on the Lower East Side, site of the current Freedom Tower. At the age of 16, having learned Morse Code and radio electronics, he passed the novice class license as an amateur (ham) radio operator, and by age 17 had achieved the advanced class license. He started an Amateur Radio Club at RJJ High School and administered the novice license exam to 10 of his classmates.
Rosenberg’s love for music was sparked during his freshman year at RJJ High School, where one hour of music appreciation per week was required. It was then that he discovered that the Donnell Library on 53rd Street in NYC lent out 33 rpm phonograph records. It was also during this time that radio station WQXR became his constant musical companion.
Upon acceptance into the City College Engineering School, he used his Regents Scholarship money to purchase a stereo with good speakers, which allowed him to enjoy listening to classical music at home. The summer following his freshman year at City College he worked as a lifeguard and radio instructor at Camp Dellwood in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. It was there that he met Leslie Benn of Far Rockaway, who lived a two-hour subway ride from the UWS. Not willing to suffer such long travel time, he purchased a Honda motorcycle, which enabled him to visit his “wife-to-be” about once a month.
After graduating from CCNY with a BSEE, Rosenberg was hired by the world-renowned research division of ATT, the Bell Telephone Laboratories, allowing the couple to marry on March 19, 1967, after having dated for 3 1/2 long years. At the start of his career, Rosenberg earned both his Master of Science and then his Doctor of Science degrees through the Doctoral Support Plan of Bell Labs.
The family moved to Teaneck 43 years ago. With three children in yeshiva, it was time to ramp up the family income. In 1980, he took a leave of absence from Bell and became a software entrepreneur, creating software used to manage the patient records of medical offices running on microcomputers. One of his earliest clients was The Frisch School, whose former principal, Rabbi Meir, engaged Rosenberg to create a new billing system and later a full student course management system for the school. The software, developed over several years, became the PaperClip Document Management System that was the basis of PaperClip Software, Inc., which went public in 1996.
Currently, Rosenberg is president of Image Technology, Inc., which provides a wide range of technology-focused services including Windows server and desktop virtualization; private cloud, Veeam Replication and Backup; disaster recovery; system performance optimization, strategic IT infrastructure planning, deployment, documentation and support.
So what of his love for classical music? Under the guidance of his teacher Jacqueline Stern of Tenafly, Rosenberg is finally fulfilling his lifelong dream of playing a string instrument. Two-and-a half years ago, on his 70th birthday, Stern helped him select his first cello and start his performing musical saga. Choosing the cello was intentional because of the beautiful, wide-ranging sound and the belief that the fingering would be less challenging than that of the violin. Rosenberg takes lessons with Stern and practices at least one hour daily.
On Sunday, January 21, Rosenberg performed his fifth solo recital at Stern’s home, along with other students, mostly in their teens. Rosenberg prefers to play his recital by heart, as he finds reading the music distracting.
“I hear the music clearly in my head, so I play as if I am singing and know what is coming next. I am sensitive to the timing of the notes and am blessed to recognize when I am not on key.” This year, Rosenberg performed Schubert’s Berceuse and Fairytale by W.H. Squire. His next recital will take place in June at the Green Meadow Country School, where Stern heads the music program.
In a testimonial to starting his musical dream late in life, Rosenberg shared, “I love classical music and learning, and I am truly blessed.”
By Pearl Markovitz