Convicted of spying for the Soviet Union, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were sentenced to death by Judge Irving Kaufman on April 5, 1951.

For the next two years, the Rosenbergs lived on death row at Sing Sing prison, maintaining they were innocence and assisting outside sympathizers' efforts on their behalf.

At 8:05 pm on June 19, 1953, Julius was executed. Ten minutes later Ethel was also executed, although the first 57-second jolt of electricity failed to kill her. She received two more before being pronounced dead.

Controversy about the Rosenberg case persists to this day, especially about the degree of Ethel's actual involvment in the espionage and the appropriateness of death as the penalty for her.

Rabbi Irving Koslowe, the Jewish chaplain at Sing Sing from 1950 through 1999, ministered to the Rosenbergs during their stay on Death Row and was with them each in their separate final minutes.

The Westchester Jewish Center rabbi reportedly never took a position on their conviction or sentence but helped find a foster home for the Rosenbergs' sons.

The rabbi later recalled that Ethel and Julius regularly attended services in the prison synagogue, but he wasn't sure whether they did that mostly because the attendance provided rare opportunity for them to be in the same room.

Asked whether any religious faith in God had been evidenced by the Rosenbergs, generally acknowledge on all sides to have been dedicated Communists, Rabbi Koslowe was quoted as replying:

I found them responsive at all times and respectful. I read some material . . that they had a disdain for religion. I read this in the newspapers. From my contact with them that was not apparent at all.

At his retirement, the prison's synagogue was renamed and rededicated in his honor. Rabbi Koslowe, who served as president of the American Correctional Chaplains Association and as editor of the association's journal, also worked as an instructor of psychology, criminal justice, and counseling at Pace University, Mercy College, and the Westchester Community College and as a consultant to NYS DOCS. He died on Dec. 6, 2000

Julius & Ethel Rosenberg image from promo card for Ron Arons' lecture The Jews of Sing Sing at Temple

NYCHS webmaster notes beneath image.

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NYCHS board member Judy Berdy, who is administrator at the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El, suggested NYCHS website readers might be interested in the subject matter of Ron Arons' April 25 lecture sponsored by the Bernard Museum of Judaica & Stettenheim Library at Temple Emanu-El.

Judy also is president of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society.

This presentation is a follow-up on her suggestion.

Elizabeth F. Stabler, Temple Emanu-El librarian, provided the photo postcard announcing the lecture.

Ron Arons, who designed the postcard, took the photos of the guard tower and Cell Block A. He credits the "illustrations of the various tortures" and the electric chair photo to "the Ossining Community Center."

The format for this web presentation was designed by the NYCHS webmaster whose own research notes appear on the left below the image.