Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
October 17, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 2     (2 of 72 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 2     (2 of 72 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
October 17, 2014

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2021. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 17, 2014 @ JDC Then-Israeli President Shlmon Peres, standing, greets Ralph Goldman at a salute for the former American Jew- ish Joint Distribution Committee leader's lOOth birthday in 2014. By Marcy Oster and Ron Kampeas JERUSALEM (JTA)--Ralph Goldman, who as ayoung man helped shepherd the State of Israel into existence and later devoted his professional life to bringing humanitarian re|iefto Jews across the globe, has died at 100. Goldman, who worked with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee since 1968--he served twice as its chief executive and still held the title of honorary executive vice president--died Tuesday in Jerusalem, where he had lived for decades. Active in arming and popu- lating prestate Israel, he went on to lead the effort to bring American technical know- how and educational tech- niques to the fledgling state. "Ralph was an iconic and transformative figure who embodied the notion that all 'Jews are responsible for one another' throughout his long and extraordinary life," said JDC's CEO, Alan Gill. Born on Sept. 1, 1914, in the town of Lechovitz in what is now Ukraine, Goldman at 11 immigrated with his fam- ily to a Jewish suburb of Bos- ton, where he attended the local public schools during the day and Hebrew school five days a week in the late afternoons. In 1934, gradu- ating from Hebrew College, he delivered the valedictory speech in Hebrew. As a young man, Goldman was involved in local Zionist endeavors. In 1937 he won a contest sponsored by a student Zionist organization for his essay on Stalin's idea of creat- ing a "homeland for the Jews" in Siberia. He was awarded a fellowship to spend a year in British Mandate Palestine, where he participated in the establishment of Kibbutz Hanita in the Galilee. He later recalled two months during the 1938 fel- lowship spent in Jerusalem, where he and some friends sought out Zionist leaders such as Berl Katznelson, Moshe Sharett and Menachem Ussishkin--barely known in the outside world, but heroes to the young Zionists. "We simply said to them please tell us what's hap- pening, and they took us seriously," Goldman said in an undated interview posted on YouTube. Goldman returned to the United States and went on to earn a bachelor's degree from Boston Universityanda master's in social work from Harvard. He served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945, first in the United States, then in England. At the conclusion of World War II, he was sta- tioned in Germany, where he up to 40% SAVINGS 100% GUARANTEE FREE DEUVERY Cartridge World-Altamonte Springs 801 W SR 436, Ste 1025 407-767-0680 ( l lle lledl re233 )urchase of s30. or more. Good on 35 OFF Buy 1 receive 35 lesser value. (s50 Good on d with any other offer. was assigned to assist Jews in Displaced Persons camps. He was active in the New York operation of prestate Israel's army, the Haganah, helping to buy and lease air- planes and ships to transport immigrants from Europe to Palestine, and assisting in the effort to recruit personnel for the nascent force. Through this work Goldman met and befriended Teddy Kollek, who would later become the long- time mayor of Jerusalem. Decades later, Goldman still registered embarrass- ment when he was reminded of his purchase of the Presi- dent Warfield, a one-time ferry. Named for the shipping magnate uncle of Wallis Simp- son-the Baltimore socialite and notorious admirer of Hitler who had married King Edward VIII--the boat was fiat bottomed, unsuitable for long sea voyages and barely made it across the Atlantic to Marseilles, where 5,000 Jew- ish refugees awaited passage to British Mandate Palestine. His Haganah colleagues were furious with Goldman but, desperate to move, they prepared the boat for launch, with Goldman helping to manage the passage across the Mediterranean. It was rechristened the By Man H. Gill (JTA)--Most Jews have never heard of, let alone ever met, Ralph I. Goldman. But for countless numbers of us throughout the world, Ralph--a former chief execu- tive of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)-- played a role in our freedom, our positive Jewish identity, our dedication to the neediest among us. He was also instrumental in the State of Israel's birth, its growth and success, its cultural and educational institutions, and its strong social fabric. Indeed, he was one of the greatest advocates for the Jewish people and Israel, their constant companion in times of need, and their warmest compatriot in times of elation. They just didn't know it. Why? Because this 100-year-old man, who passed away in Jerusalem on Oct. 7, 2014, was more focused on our well-being, on creating op- portunities for us to embrace our Jewish identity and on Israel's bright future than on bolstering his own reputation. And his life's work and ongoing legacy are reasons to pause, and celebrate, even as we mourn his passing. Ralph was an early builder of the State of Israei--a brave and deliberate Jewish leader who cracked open communist Europe to revive Jewish life in places where the Soviets strived so very hard to eradi- cate it. He also worked with a full heart to strengthen ancient Jewish communities in places from Morocco to Mumbai. Ralph was the living embodi- ment of the Talmudic precept that "all Jews are responsible for one another." Exodus, and its standoff out- side Haifa became a symbol of Jewish resistance to Brit- ain's refusal to allow in Jews. Goldman became a close confidant and adviser to Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and in 1951 was in charge of the prime minister's initial visit to the U.S. as head of state. He spent several years after that coordinating a U.S. program that delivered technical know- how to emerging countries; a 1951 announcement in New York said he was heading up the search for "skilled work- ers" to train Israelis. He later served as executive director of the American- Israel Cultural Foundation and the Israel Education Fund, an arm of the United Jewish Appeal that helped establish and improve high schools in Israel. Goldman joined the JDC in 1968 when he became the associate director of its Israel operation, establishing its department for the care of the elderly and introducing in- novations in early childhood care. He would serve as the chief executive of JDC from 1976 until 1985, and again from 1986 until 1988. Goldman was a driving force in JDC's low-profile Ralph Goldman assisting Ben-Gurion with his coat. He was a trusted adviser and friend to Israeli lead- ers, including David Ben- Gurion, Shimon Peres and Teddy Kollek. He encouraged, trained and guided hundreds of Jewish leaders who have taken leading roles in their communities from America to Ukraine to Hungary. Ralph also was a mentor to many young Jewish in- novators. He took delight in forming strong bonds with the distinguished cohort of Ralph I. Goldman Fellows--people working in Jewish communi- ties around the globe to better lives and influence our collec- tive Jewish future. And I was personally privileged to have Ralph as a mentor for the last two decades. He was a father, a husband, a grandparent, a dear friend and in his iconic bowtie the consummate gentleman. We live in a world to- day where giants of Ralph's stature are few and very far between. He possessed a quiet determination that put action and deed before rhetoric and people ahead of propaganda. activities behind the Iron Curtain, and in the 1970s and 1980s brought JDC programs back into the open in commu- nist countries. He led sensitive negotiations with Soviet lead- ers, navigating JDC's return to what would become the former Soviet Union almost immediately after its collapse. Asked in 2012 how he pulled off such negotiations without the benefit of diplomatic training or accreditation, Goldman said, "I was repre- senting the Jewish People. I couldn't afford to fail." Limmud FSU, together with the Jewish community of Belarus, last month celebrated his 100th birthday as part of the opening gala celebrations at the beginning of a Limmud FSUconference heldinVitebsk. Goldman was honored at JDC's centennial celebration in Jerusalem in May. His son, David Ben-Rafael, a senior Israeli diplomat, was killed in the March 1992 bombing of the Israeli Em- bassy in Argentina. Goldman is survived by his daughters, Judith Baumgold of Jerusalem and Naomi Goldman of New York; a daughter-in-law, Elisa Ben- Rafael of Jerusalem; and six grandchildren, as well as great-grandchildren. JDC Israeli Prime Minister David Nowhere can that been seen more poignantly than in a legendary photograph of Ralph and Ben-Gurion that for decades has delighted all who see it. It shows Ralph, a close adviser to the first Israeli prime minister, humbly helping him into his jacket before attending a meeting in New York in the 1950s. Today that gesture seems foreign and perhaps even a little old-fashioned, but it was Ralph to the core. He was always there behind the scenes, pushing forward to ensure the best interests of a people and a state that were central to his being. So as we celebrate Simchat Torah, I urge us all to take a moment to remember the man who provided joy and encouragement to so many, even if they never knew his name. We are his legacy, an everlasting monument to his boundless devotion. Thank you, Ralph. Alan H. Gill is CEO of the American Jewish Joint Distri- bution Committee. M I KE CLELLAND