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Goldstein, Israel


GOLDSTEIN, ISRAEL (1896–1986), U.S. Conservative rabbi and Zionist. He was born in Philadelphia, received his Jewish education at Yeshiva Mishkan Israel and Gratz College, studying for a time at a ḥeder in Riga. He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (1914) and ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1918. He received his D.H.L. from the Seminary as well (1927). In that year he was appointed rabbi of the prominent Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in New York, where he served until 1961. Begun in 1825, B'nai Jeshurun was one of the oldest congregations in New York and badly in need of revitalization. Goldstein instituted late Friday evening services, expanded its school and educational outreach, and began the community center directed by Louis Levitsky. During his four decades of leadership, he established B'nai Jeshurun as a respected and progressive congregation. An ardent Zionist, Goldstein was president of the Jewish National Fund of America (1933–43), and vice president (1934–43) and president (1943–45) of the Zionist Organization of America, and enjoyed the reputation of an outstanding orator and administrator.

A member and officer of several Jewish, interfaith, and public organizations and commissions, he was a founder of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (1928) and of Brandeis College (1946). Elected first president of the World Confederation of General Zionists (1946), he served as chairman of both the United Jewish and Palestine Appeals (1947–48), treasurer of the Jewish Agency (1948–49) while on Sabbatical from his congregation, and first president of Amidar, the Israel national housing company (1948–49). During Goldstein's tenure as president of the American Jewish Congress (1951–58) that organization vigorously opposed McCarthyism and the restrictive McCarran-Walter Immigration Act, supported equal rights for American blacks, and attempted to counter Arab anti-Israel propaganda. In 1961 Goldstein moved to Jerusalem and became world chairman of the Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, serving in that capacity until 1971, when he also retired from the co-presidency of the World Confederation of General Zionists, of which he was appointed honorary president. His books include a history of his congregation Century of Judaism in New York (1930); sermons and essays, Towards a Solution (1940) and American Jewry Comes of Age (1955); and Transition Years, New York – Jerusalem, 1960–1962 (1962); Israel at Home and Abroad (1973); Jewish Justice and Conciliation: History of the Jewish Conciliation Board of America. 1930–1968 (1981); and a two-volume autobiography, My World as a Jew (2 vols., 1984); and Jewish Perspectives: Selected Addresses, Sermons, Broadcasts and Articles, 1915–1984, edited by Gabriel A. Sivan (1985). He was also honorary president of the American Jewish Congress, the jnf of America, and the Israel Interfaith Committee. His wife bertha (1895–1996) was national president of the *Pioneer Women Organization (1947 to 1951) and was active in many women's organizations.

With his wife Israel Goldstein instituted the Bert and Israel Goldstein Jerusalem Prize for Good Citizenship. Both Goldsteins were yekirei Yerushalayim (Distinguished Citizens of Jerusalem).


H. Schneiderman (ed.), Two Generations in Perspective: Notable Events and Trends, 1896–1956 (1957).

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