Jacob Rothman was born January 29, 1911 in Brooklyn, New York. He lived in Newark, NJ where he graduated from South Side High School. He enrolled in Upsala College in New Jersey where he experienced blatant anti-Semitism, finding that fraternity resident facilities were closed to Jews and he established the first Jewish facility.
During WWII, he served in the U.S. Merchant Marine as a chief radio officer on ammunition ships. He was discharged in September 1945. He worked as a chief draftsman for the Congoleum Narn company and lectured in mechanics at Columbia University. He was very much moved by the struggle in Israel; and said that when he read that 40,000,000 Arabs were fighting against 400,000 Jews, he decided to become the 400,001.
He contacted the Haganah people engaged in the clandestine acquisition of arms for Israel and worked actively with them. In the summer of 1948, he sailed for Israel as first radio operator of the ship Kefalos, which was carrying arms and aviation fuel to Israel from Tampico, Mexico. The voyage was long and difficult but ultimately successful. Jack was influenced further by Arieh Kesselman, the only Israeli on the ship. Rothman was very much taken with what he saw of the land and the people and thought seriously about settling there.
Jack enlisted in the Israel Air Force and was sent on a mission to Italy on the way home. He was killed in a plane crash on an island off the Italian coast on December 31, 1948. The Jewish community of Rome attended the funeral. Jack's body was transferred to Israel and buried in Nahalat Yitzhak on March 6, 1949. He left a wife and daughter in the United States.