Roslyn Epstein


Roslyn Levin was born in the Bronx on January 3, 1926. The Levins soon thereafter moved to Brooklyn. Roslyn has very fond memories of the apartment on Herzl Street where she grew up (her maternal grandparents owned the apartment complex). When she was an adolescent, her family moved a few blocks away to Amboy Street.

Her father, Abraham Levin, was a professional celloist who performed on cruise ships. He would occasionally take trips to Cuba and bring back gifts for the kids. Her mother, Betty Levin, worked as a seamstress in a garment factory. Her younger brother, Julius Levin, is an engineer and currently lives in Virginia.

Tragedy struck her family when her father unexpectedly passed away when she was 12. It was something that profoundly affected her for the rest of her life.

Roslyn always had artistic talent. Even as a young girl, she was a skilled drawer. As a teenage, she drew a picture of a barren tree extending its branches over a river, in search of a source of nourishment. She has said that she was thinking about the loss of her father when she painted this picture.

She attended Jefferson High School in Brooklyn in the early 1940s. During the summers, she was a camp counselor at a Jewish camp in New York, and one summer was the director of the girls camp.

After graduation, she attended classes at Brooklyn College, and then a few classes at NYU.
When she was 21, she married Eli Rill. They were married for about 3 years.

For a short while, she lived in Greenwich Village in New York. She described herself as a "bohemian" and loved the city life. During this period, she was an early "student" of the burgeoning Gestalt Therapy pioneered by Fritz Pearl and had fond memories of his wife,
with whom she spent more time.

She became a social worker and loved working with all age groups, but particularly with the seniors. She worked at the Jewish Senior Center in Newark, New Jersey. It was there that she met a woman named Bessie Epstein. Bessie took a liking to her and asked her if she was single. After some hesitation, Roslyn answered "yes". Bessie said she had a nephew who was looking for someone; his name was Herbert Epstein, who was actually her son! Cantor Epstein, who grew up in Newark, had moved out to the San Francisco Bay Area to start his professional career at Peninsula Temple Beth El in San Mateo.

After corresponding with him for a few months, she decided to fly out to the area and spend some time there. She had a nice visit there and loved the area. The rest, as they say, is history.

On January 4, 1959, they were married in Newark, New Jersey. The wedding was officiated by 3 Rabbis! The couple had two sons, David and Jonathan.

Cantor Herbert and Roslyn Epstein performed memorable concerts throughout Northern California. They sang an assortment of Hebrew and Yiddish pieces. For many years, Roslyn was the Arts and Crafts teacher at the temple. She inspired her students to explore their inner creativity. She led them to build a model of the Old City of Jerusalem, draw beautiful murals depicting Biblical scenes on the Sunday school walls, and helped them to make puppets and mosaics.

For almost 15 years, starting in the 1970s, Roslyn worked at the Employment Development Department (EDD), first in San Mateo, then in South San Francisco. She was an employment counselor who assisted people to find gainful employment and led and participated in numerous vocational training seminars.

In the 1980s and 1990s, she took several art classes at the College of San Mateo. It was during this period that she had her greatest artistic output. Her exceptional paintings were primarily steeped in Realism and Impressionism. Roslyn painted several nude models, and drew numerous pencil sketches. Her favorite mediums were pastel and watercolor, though she painted a few oil works. She loved painting Jewish subjects: a Yemenite woman with her child, old Rabbis, survivors of concentration camps, Jerusalem sites and subjects. The one great sculpture she created is of a woman "benshlicting" (lighting the Shabbat Candles).

In later years, Roslyn lived in nearby board and care and nursing homes. On November 29, 2012, at about 11:00 am, she passed away. She was such a wonderful person whom we were so privileged to know.