People A-Z  /  Rosa Coplon

Founder, Lay Leader, Volunteer



Rosa Berman was born in 1855 in Shavl in Eastern Europe, then part of the Russian Pale of Settlement, and now a part of Lithuania. In 1878 she married Samuel Coplon, a skilled glazier, and began raising a family in Shavl while working as a fishmonger. She had six children with her husband, but only four of whom survived to adulthood. Seeking an escape from endemic antisemitism and economic privation, the family emigrated to America. Samuel and their son Joseph arrived first in the late 1880’s and set up the family business in Buffalo. Rosa and their younger children came in the early 1890s.  They lived on the East Side, first on Mortimer Street, then on Jefferson, and settled eventually on Broadway in 1900, living above their family business, S. Coplon & Sons Paper Hangings (and) Paints, Oils & Glass. Ten years later, David Coplon created D. H. Coplon Wallpaper and Paint Company at the same location.

At this time, before a nationally funded social security framework existed, elderly family members were cared for either with their family members or in charity and private nursing homes. Some of the Jewish residents of private nursing homes were Yiddish speaking. They experienced institutional frameworks that were only English speaking as isolating and lonely places. Many of the elderly Jews who came to America from Eastern Europe had lived within Orthodox Jewish traditions and wanted to maintain those customs including eating kosher food and observing Jewish practice.

The plight of elderly immigrant Jews isolated in private elderly facilities troubled Rosa Coplon and other Jewish women who knew this situation was likely to grow over time. This group of like-minded women banded together to help Jewish elders experience a life that was more supportive, and where familiar language and customs were part of their lives. In 1910 they created the “Daughters of Israel Jewish Old Folks’ Home,” the earliest forerunner to the current Rosa Coplon Living Center at the contemporary Weinberg Campus.

The group expanded when it joined with another group of Buffalo Jewish women from the West Side of the city in 1912, who also wanted to support a Jewish home for the elderly. Membership to the group opened to men in 1914, and some of the sons and husbands of the female members joined. Rosa’s eldest son, Joseph Coplon, was elected vice-chairman in 1915. This larger group found a location at 210 Porter Avenue in Buffalo and the first three residents moved into the building in October 1915 when the home was officially dedicated. It offered Yiddish language management, kosher food and shabbat observance.

Tragically, after a decade of involvement in the planning, fundraising and opening of a Jewish Old Folks Home, Rosa’s own life was cut short when she died at home following an accident on October 26, 1920. Family members, however, took up her work, and the Jewish seniors’ home was renamed in her memory: Rosa Coplon Jewish Old Folks Home (RCJOFH): Orthodox Jewish Home for the Aged in 1924. It expanded its functions to include nursing to become the Rosa Coplon Jewish Home and Infirmary during the 1950s. In 1993 a new Campus form of the home relocated to the suburbs and was subsequently renamed Weinberg Campus in 1994.

Rosa Coplon is buried in a family plot in Cheektowaga at the Temple Beth El Cemetery on Pine Ridge Heritage Boulevard in Erie County, New York.

East Side members, 1910

Jewish women members from the 1910 East Side group worked to create the initial organizing group for a Jewish Old Folks Home:

  • Mrs. Pauline Agranove
  • Mrs. Bear
  • Mrs. Rosa Coplon
  • Mrs. Esther Bell Dautch
  • Mrs. Elizabeth Goldman
  • Mrs. Sarah Rivo
  • Miss Gertrude Rivo
  • Mrs. Catherine Rubenstein
  • Mrs. Sol Rubenstein
  • Mrs. Sarah Smith
  • Mrs. Sarah Sheifitz
  • Mrs. Louis Maisel
  • Mrs. Simon Kahn

New York State charter “The Daughters of Israel Jewish Old Folks Home,” 1912.

The charter members as affixed to the charter of incorporation follows:

  • Mrs. Pauline Agranove
  • Mrs. Louis Banditson
  • Mrs. Abe Bieneman
  • Mrs. Joseph Coplon
  • Mr. Isaac Given
  • Mrs. Moses Goodman
  • Mrs. Charles Harris
  • Mrs. Louis Michael
  • Mr. Isaac Cohen
  • Mr. Louis Roth
  • Mrs. Louis Rosen
  • Mrs. Sol Rubenstein
  • Mr. David Ruslander
  • Mrs. Isaac Smith
  • Mrs. Alexander Bohne
  • Mrs. Dora Block
  • Mrs. Rosa Coplon
  • Mr. Joseph B. Block
  • Mrs. Herbert Guggenheimer
  • Miss Sarah Haas
  • Mr. Benajmin Meshorer
  • Mr. Louis Miller
  • Mr. Louis Roth
  • Mr. Louis Rosen
  • Mrs. Catherine Rubenstein
  • Mrs. Wolf Pincus
  • Mrs. Sara Shapiro
  • Mr. Adolf Winters



Coplon Paints, Oils and Glass Store, c. 1912

Coplon family home in Buffalo

Discover More

Collections at the University Archives, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY

Written and Photographic Histories and articles

  • Selig Adler, and Thomas F. Connelly. From Ararat to Suburbia: The History of the Jewish Community of Buffalo. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1960.
  • Ilene R. Fleischmann, The Rosa Coplon Home Story, 1910-1985, Buffalo: Partner’s Press, 1985.
  • Chana Revell Kotzin. Images of America: Jewish Community of Greater Buffalo. Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2013.

Thank you

Our thanks to Alva Coplon Barozzi for her assistance in creating this profile.  Our thanks also to Jessica Hollister at the University Archives, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.