Women’s History: Paying Tribute Through Design

  • March 31, 2022
A woman with shoulder-length wavy blond hair, wearing a black dress, sits at a cream-colored desk chair and smiles.
Courtesy Freida Rothman

Like most New Yorkers who were here that day, Freida Rothman still vividly remembers the terrorist attacks of September 11 — and the death and destruction they wreaked on her city. Rothman’s love for New York and in particular Brooklyn, where she grew up and now lives with her husband and their four children, is one of her defining characteristics. But Brooklyn means more to her than just “home” — it’s also the place that saved all four of her grandparents, offering a haven when they fled the Holocaust. Today she attributes the strength, resilience, and unity her jewelry designs represent to them.

Having been shaped so significantly by both the Holocaust and then 9/11, Rothman crafts pieces that pay homage to her beloved New York and underscore the importance of never forgetting. Several of the pieces are available at the Museum store, honoring those killed on 9/11, the first responders who risked their lives to help others, and the city residents who came together in the days that followed the attacks. Among them is the Honor chain link pendant necklace, which Rothman designed in collaboration with female West Point Military Academy graduates.

"We used the words 'Honor' and 'Courage' in recognition of first responders who embody these qualities,” she said. “We wanted to pay tribute to these brave men and women who risk their lives to help others.”

Because of her grandparents’ ordeal in World War II, Rothman’s family has always maintained a special connection to the military, which they credit with saving countless families like hers. Growing up, her parents often took her to visit military bases, and she was particularly inspired by the women in uniform. Her Women of Strength campaign — pieces of which are included in our offerings — is a tribute to them and to role models in her life like her grandmothers. The campaign highlights the stories of women who overcame challenges and persevered in the face of adversity; its flagship piece is the STRENGTH bracelet, which features bold lettering against a black background.
“I was raised by strong women and have met so many women of strength who have played a pivotal role in my life,” she said. “I wanted to honor those women and highlight their stories in my work.”

Rothman is a second-generation jeweler; her father worked in the industry for almost 40 years, sparking her passion. Below, meet the designer and hear her talk about the faith, hope, love, and strength behind the pieces that pay tribute to 9/11 and strong women everywhere. 

View Rothman's pieces at the Museum store. Proceeds from all purchases support the Museum and its mission.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

Meet Freida Rothman

Freida Rothman

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