Dr. Harvey Rosner was a beloved family practitioner in Williamsburg who had served the community for 40 years, with a practice on Lee Avenue and an office on the Lower East Side. The entire community benefited from his presence; he wrote prescriptions quickly, conveyed instructions to the pharmacy, and sometimes even paid for the medication if the family could not afford it. He also wrote a weekly health column in a local newspaper. In some families, he treated the great-grandchildren of former patients.
When Esther Gross’ children were young, she visited Dr. Rosner often. He took the time to listen to their symptoms and checked their ears and throats with gentleness. Though he had many patients, he gave them his undivided attention, especially the son who was born prematurely and was more vulnerable to infections.
Esther regarded Dr. Rosner as an angel on earth. To express her gratitude, she would send him poems every Erev Yom Tov, along with a baked treat for the Yom Tov. She sent him hamantashen for Purim, honey cake for Rosh Hashanah, shmurah matzah for Pesach, rugelach for Sukkos, and of course, cheesecake for Shavuos. She got into the habit of gratitude, and brightening people’s days with poems soon became second nature to her.
Decades later, the Gross children were married, and were now bringing their children to the doctor. One day, out of the blue, Esther got a phone call from a familiar voice asking, “Is this Mrs. Gross?”
It sounded like Dr. Rosner, but why would he be calling her?
As it happened, it was not Dr. Harvey Rosner, but his brother Martin, relaying the sad news that Dr. Rosner had passed away. He had begun to feel weak on Chol Hamoed Sukkos, and an MRI scan had revealed advanced-stage cancer. He was hospitalized on Thursday after Yom Tov and passed away a week later, on Friday night, at the age of 76.