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Dr. Israel Goldstein Dead at 89

April 14, 1986
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Israel Goldstein, a rabbi, scholar, author, one of the major figures in American Zionism and world Jewish affairs and one of the relatively few diaspora leaders to settle in Israel after retirement, died at Shaare Zedek Hospital here Friday after a long illness. He would have been 90 on June 18. Funeral services were held Sunday.

Dr. Goldstein was rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun on New York’s Upper West Side from 1918 to 1960. It was and is one of the largest Conservative congregations in the U.S., the oldest Ashkenazic congregation in New York and the second oldest synagogue in the city.

From its pulpit, Goldstein launched a career of service to Judaism and Zionism which spanned the most tumultuous years of this century and continued long after he and his wife, Bert Goldstein, moved permanently to Jerusalem in 1960.

During his 42 years as rabbi of a prestigious synagogue, Goldstein was deeply involved in the Zionist movement and the struggle leading up to the founding of the State of Israel. He worked closely with Stephen Wise, Abba Hillel Silver, Nahum Goldmann, holding office in more than a score of Jewish and Zionist organizations, writing prolifically and lecturing to audiences all over the U.S and the world.


In 1946, Goldstein founded Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., the first university in the U.S. under secular Jewish sponsorship. He was a consultant to the U.S. delegation at the Founding Conference of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.

He was treasurer of the Jewish Agency in 1949, president and later chairman of the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization from 1952-60 and vice chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany from 1953-1970.

Goldstein was born in Philadelphia on June 18, 1896. He received a BA degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1914 where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He was ordained a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1918 and received a Doctorate of Hebrew Literature from the Seminary in 1927. He subsequently received honorary doctorates from six other colleges and universities.

He held the presidency of many organizations over the years, including Young Judaea (1926-28); New York Board of Rabbis (1928-1930); Jewish National Fund of America (1934-1943); Zionist Organization of America (1943-1946); American Jewish Congress (1952-1959). He was also president of Brit Ivrit Olamit, the World Hebrew Union. He was a delegate to many World Zionist Congresses.

In addition, Goldstein served as chairman of Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal from 1961-1971. Earlier, he had been chairman of the United Palestine Appeal (1935-1939) and co-chair-man of the United Jewish Appeal (1939-1945).


Goldstein was deeply involved in educational and cultural life in Israel as well as the U.S., serving as deputy chairman of the boards of governors of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot; and a member of the Board of Governors of Haifa University.

He was chairman of the Jerusalem Council of the Israel-America Friendship League and a member of the Executive Committee of the Memorial Fund for Jewish Culture. He was a founder of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1928 and co-chairman of its Commission on Religious Organizations in 1930-1932.

Goldstein retired and moved to Jerusalem in December, 1960 and as Rabbi Emeritus of B’nai Jeshurun, returned to New York each year to deliver sermons either during the High Holidays or Passover. He remained vigorously active in Jerusalem, especially as director of the Israel Goldstein Youth Village here, a hospice providing education and vocational training for boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 17, sponsored by the Jewish Agency and named in his honor.

His published works include “A Century of Judaism in New York” (1930); “Toward a Solution” (1940); “Shanah b’Yisrael” (1950); “American Jewry Comes of Age” (1955); “Transition Years” (1966); “Israel at Home and Abroad” (1977).

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