Carrying Ralph Goldman’s Legacy Forward

Hebrew University President Menahem Ben-Sasson and Israel Supreme Court Deputy President Eliyakim Rubinstein were among the distinguished guests today at the opening of the Ralph I. Goldman Center for Social Welfare, Ethics, and Judaism at the university’s Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare, where Prof. Yedidiya Stern presented the opening lecture.

JDC Israel CEO Yossi Tamir headed a delegation of JDC professionals, who joined Goldman family members, friends, and a host of academics in this latest tribute to the legacy of Ralph Goldman, z”l, who passed away in October 2014, soon after celebrating his one-hundredth birthday.

An icon of international Jewish communal service, Ralph’s name was synonymous with JDC’s for over four decades. He served first as JDC’s Assoc. Director General in Israel and then as its Executive Vice President and Honorary Exec. Vice President, and he was still actively working on JDC’s behalf at his death.     

Intensely interested in the interface between Jewish ethics and social welfare policies, Ralph himself laid the groundwork for this new Center. In 2008, with support from the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Fund, he collaborated with the Baerwald School to establish what has become an increasingly popular series of courses and student scholarship opportunities addressing this nexus.

It was an endeavor that continued a long-standing relationship between The Hebrew University and JDC, dating back to the establishment in 1958 of the social work school, named after Paul Baerwald, a founding member of the JDC, and the founding in 1971 of the Joseph J. Schwartz Training Center for Community Center Personnel, named after the JDC professional who led JDC's response to WWII and the Shoah. [Learn more about JDC’s hallmark WWII-era activities at archives.JDC.org.]

Honoring Ralph’s legacy in a field so close to his heart, the eponymous Center will serve as a hub for groundbreaking academic explorations of this subject. It will offer graduate level courses, research groups, support for masters and doctoral studies, and opportunities for international collaboration and scholarly exchanges.

As JDC Executive Vice President Alan Gill reminds us, “Ralph lived his entire life in service to the Jewish People, and his greatest joy was to pass on his values to the next generation. This new center will do that and more—keeping his dreams, his vision, and his abiding sense of commitment alive for generations to come.” 

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