(JNS.org) Ralph I. Goldman—a leader of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and a close confidant of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion—died at the age of 100 in Jerusalem, JDC announced Tuesday.
"The profound sadness and deep sense of loss we feel today is indescribable: Ralph Goldman was a giant among Jewish leaders, dedicating his life and career to strengthening Israel and to ensuring the survival and vibrancy of Jewish people and communities worldwide," said JDC President Penny Blumenstein and CEO Alan H. Gill in a statement.
"A cornerstone of JDC’s global operations for more than four decades, Ralph was an iconic and transformative figure who embodied the notion that all 'Jews are responsible for one another' throughout his long and extraordinary life," they added.
Born in Ukraine, Goldman immigrated to the U.S. and became involved in Zionist activities, joining the New York City branch of the Haganah, the pre-1948 Israeli military group. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and helped displaced Jews after the Holocaust. Later, Goldman helped recruit know-how and funding for the nascent state of Israel. He served as Ben-Gurion's representative at the Israeli consulate in New York and was in charge of the prime minister’s first state visit to the U.S.
Goldman, who first became involved with JDC in 1968 and was its honorary executive vice president, is the recipient of the French Legion of Honor and other awards, and established the JDC Entwine Ralph I. Goldman Fellowship for the mentoring of Jewish communal leaders.
"[Goldman's] passing leaves a tremendous void, but also a priceless legacy that will sustain JDC, Israel, and the Jewish world well into the future," Blumenstein and Gill said.