For Immediate Release
Often seen bow-tie clad and walking about JDC-Israel’s office in Jerusalem responding to colleagues on his PDA, 93-year-old Ralph I. Goldman, Honorary Executive Vice-President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), was one of 12 individuals chosen to light a torch at Israel’s 60th Anniversary national Yom HaAtzma’ut ceremony on Wednesday evening, May 7th. The widely broadcast event, which took place on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, transitioned the State of Israel from the somber and pensive Yom HaZikaron (Remembrance Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers) to the celebration of Yom HaAtzma’ut (Independence Day). Representing this year’s theme of children, a child accompanied each torch lighter.
An iconic figure who is inextricably linked to the history of the Jewish people—from the period prior to the establishment of the State of Israel through its early years of Statehood, to the strengthening of Israeli society—Mr. Goldman embodies 60 years of social and cultural activism in Israel. Yet despite his long history, Mr. Goldman is young in spirit, vibrant, and relevant, living in Jerusalem and volunteering his time every day at the offices of JDC-Israel.
About Ralph I. Goldman
An outstanding leader of the American and global Jewish communities, Goldman’s contribution to the State of Israel began pre-statehood, when he was involved with Teddy Kollek in “acquisition” efforts by the Haganah in the United States. From 1953-1957, he worked as the coordinator of the aid effort under the aegis of the United States government and the United Nations in the Office of the Prime Minister in Israel. During that time, among other critical roles, he was David Ben Gurion’s aide, who he deeply admires to this day.
As the former Director of JDC’s global operations, Goldman enhanced the organization’s humanitarian work on behalf of World Jewry, establishing JDC’s presence in Europe, the former Soviet Union, and Ethiopia. Goldman also founded JDC-Israel, winner of the prestigious 2007 Israel Prize for its contribution to Israeli society, and helped moved its headquarters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Among other activities, Goldman helped develop the network of assistance programs for the elderly, for children at risk, for immigrants, and for individuals with special needs. Spearheading the establishment of community centers throughout Israel, he established the Israel Education Fund, which sets up kindergartens and high schools in Israel’s periphery, created community centers and libraries, and promotes personnel training for community-based early childhood centers. Goldman was also among the founders of Israel’s leading social policy research centers, the Taub Center for Social Policy Research and the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute.
On the cultural front, Goldman helped obtain the initial grant and raised funds to establish the Israel Museum, served as a member of the Board of the Habimah Theater, and raised funds to help establish the BatSheva Dance Troupe. As the Director of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, Ralph worked to bring the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to international stature and similarly made efforts for the Inbal Dance Troupe, which he helped to reach international status.
Son of Chana Yocheved and Mordechai Goldman, father of three, grandfather of six, and the great-grandfather of four, Goldman is also a bereaved father; his son David ben Rephael was killed in the terrorist bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992.
Ralph lit the torch of Yissaschar, one of the 12 tribes of Israel whose legacy is symbolized by the country’s annual Independence Day ceremony.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.
For more information, please visit www.JDC.org.