Abraham Goodman, Philanthropist and Zionist Leader, Dead at 98

Abraham Goodman, a leading philanthropist who rose from pushcart vendor to chairman of a $300 million corporation, died at his home in Fort Lee, N.J. Friday. He was 98.

Goodman, a member of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency board of directors, was a leader of the Zionist Organization of America and a founder of many Jewish-sponsored institutions that reflected his intense interest in Jewish education and culture.

They include the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, the Herzliah Jewish Teachers Seminary in New York and Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach. He was virtually the sole source of financial support for the Tarbut Foundation for the Advancement of Hebrew Culture.

In 1977, he contributed $2.5 million toward the erection of a building near Lincoln Center in Manhattan to house the Tarbut Foundation and the Hebrew Art School for Music and Dance. Completed in 1978, it was named the Abraham Goodman House.

Goodman’s association with JTA dated back more than 40 years. He served as JTA treasurer for more than 20 years, until 1984, and was a board member at the time of his death.

Born in Gritsev, Ukraine, Goodman earned a living by selling hair combs off a pushcart in New York, as a teen-ager. He put himself through New York University, earning a degree in accounting.

With other family members he founded Goodman and Sons, which sold a variety of hair care products, later becoming Goody Products, with headquarters in Kearny, N.J.

In 1929, Goody acquired a half interest in the Foster Grant Co., then a small producer of sunglasses and combs in Massachusetts. By 1975, when Goodman was Foster Grant’s chairman, its annual sales in petrochemicals, sun glasses and other products had risen to more than $300 million a year.

Goodman retired in 1975 as chairman and president of Goody Products.

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