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Goldman, Jack J. (Jakob Goldmann) (1923-2009)



Denver area photographer, early member of Rodef Shalom. Holocaust survivor.


Intermountain Jewish News August 23, 2009

WITH his signature cap and gracious smile, Jack Goldman transformed everyone he met with a loving wink that somehow survived –– and challenged –– the pits of hell.

He never walked into a room of friends or acquaintances and proclaimed, “I am a Holocaust survivor.” Instead he talked about his family, photography or the winds of change in the air.

But when he spoke about the Holocaust –– and he was one of the first survivors in Denver to do so, to adults, students, the innocent and the indifferent –– a defiant pain shouted in those gentle eyes.

And then he put it away, embraced the present moment, and winked.

“I cannot forget and I will not forgive,” he told the IJN in 1993, after returning to his birthplace in Germany for the first time in 47 years.

“But I will give a chance for a new beginning.”

Jack Goldman, after a life severely interrupted, lived to the absolute fullest. He passed away Aug. 7, 2009, in Denver.

The Aug. 9 service at the HEA, attended by a capacity crowd, was officiated by Rabbis Bruce Dollin, Salomon Gruenwald, Steven Foster and Marc Soloway, and Cantor Martin Goldstein.

Nearly 500 people representing all of Mr. Goldman’s interests and affiliations –– Holocaust education, ADL, former Bar and Bat Mizvah students, IJN readers moved by his lyrical holiday edition covers, generations of families whose simchas were preserved through his photographic eye –– mourned his loss.

Rabbi Gruenwald, HEA’s assistant rabbi, said that Mr. Goldman “was always a teacher, asking the rabbis difficult questions” until the very end.

Rabbi Dollin noted how Mr. Goldman led the HEA’s Yom HaShoah committee for years and helped several other area synagogues commemorate the Shoah.

“There was never [an HEA] Yom HaShoah commemoration that didn’t have Jack’s distinctive stamp on it,” he said.

He also mentioned his Judaic pieces, which were cherished by families throughout the US and Israel.

Last Friday, the day Mr. Goldman died, the news passed quickly through his network of friends. Many of them made a point to use their Jack Goldman challah trays for Shabbat that evening.

Rabbi Foster said that he was “a brand new rabbi in 1972” when he heard Jack Goldman speak at a youth institute at Shwayder Camp. It was the first time Foster had heard a Holocaust survivor discusses his experiences in public.

He also recalled an incident from the 1993 trip to Germany that he went on with Mr. Goldman and others.

When Dachau’s city leaders and the mayor of Dachau met with the Colorado delegation, they claimed they did not know what was happening in the Holocaust. Read the IJN’s eulogy

Mr. Goldman, barely able to contain his anger and disbelief, vehemently countered that the inmates at Dachau could see the apartments rising above the camp, and that “you could see us.”

Rabbi Soloway of Bonai Shalom spoke about how important he was to the congregation, having served as the High Holiday cantor during the Conservative synagogue’s first 10 years.

Aaron Hernandez, a friend of the family, read a moving letter from Chanan Dann, Jack’s oldest grandson and now an air force officer in the Israel Defense Forces.

Interment followed at Mt. Nebo Cemetery. Feldman Mortuary made the arrangements.

JACK Goldman was born on erev Yom Kippur, 1923, in Manheim, Germany. His sisters escaped on the kindertransport and made their way to America.

In 1938, he was arrested by the Nazis, brought to Oranienburg and then transferred to Sachsenhausen.

After that, he was deported to Dachau, Auschwitz, and forced on a death march back to Dachau.

He nearly died of typhus. His clothing was in tatters and he had no shoes. But he survived to witness the liberation of Dachau by the American army. Mr. Goldman’s parents were murdered in the Holocaust.

Good with languages, the 22-year-old survivor began working the US Army in Germany after regaining his strength. The soldiers adopted him like a son, a brother.

A Zionist, Mr. Goldman wanted to make his way to Israel but joined his sisters in the US. He settled in New York City, where he worked in a sweatshop for six years.

Mr. Goldman and his friend Ezra Cohen, who had TB, came to Denver. They had planned on going into business together, but Mr. Cohen succumbed to his illness.

In the late 1940s, Mr. Goldman enlisted in the US Army. He ended up serving four years, including one year with an artillery unit in the Korean War.

He began talking about his experiences in the Holocaust while in the service.

For the next six decades, he turned the horror of his youth into an open book that he shared with students of all ages.

“He taught others what can happen when the evil in the hearts of men takes over,” Rabbi Dollin said. “He taught about the ghastly consequences when good people say and do nothing.”

Naturalized as an American citizen on Feb. 25, 1952, Mr. Goldman met a lovely woman named Margot Weis that July. They were married in November, 1952.

The couple became founding members of Rodef Shalom, where they developed a close relationship with Rabbi Reuven Hammer.

“It was Rabbi Hammer who encouraged Jack to speak more about his experiences,” Rabbi Dollin said.

Jack shared his darkest memories of the Holocaust wherever possible:at Jewish venues, the US Air Force Academy, CU, dozens of public schools throughout Denver.

Aware he could never change his own past, he willing shared its most devestating details to prevent the suffering of future generations.

Under the GI Bill, Mr. Goldman attended school to study commercial photography. The Denver Jewish community, as well as this newspaper, benefited from his amazing talents for the next 35 years.

In addition to simchas and scenes of Jewish life, he took photos of presidents and celebrities who appeared on IJN Publisher Max Goldberg’s TV show “On the Spot” in the 1950s and 1960s.

In his later years, he created ceramic pieces primarily dealing with the Shoah, and donated them to area synagogues.

A popular Bar Mitzvah tutor, Jack loved everything Jewish. Whether crafting artwork or praying in the synagogue, his faith gave hope and sustenance to others.

He first visited Israel in 1967 and returned with 400 slides. His love of the land was contagious: two of his children now live there.

Mr. Goldman “felt it was his obligation to future generations to let them know what happened in the Holocaust,” his son Bob told the IJN.

“Jews and non-Jews had to know, so that history would never repeat itself.”

The mild-mannered man who preferred life behind the camera “had a lot of chutzpah,” Bob acknowledged. “If someone made a personal affront to him about the Holocaust, he had no problem speaking up.

“My father told us many, many times that his children and grandchildren were his greatest victory over Hitler.”

Mr. Goldman is survived by his wife Margot Goldman of Denver; children Roxana (John) Dann of Israel, Tina (Yaakov) Lehrer of Israel, Michelle Goldman of Boulder and Robert (Rachael) Goldman of Denver; brother Terry Danburg of Denver and sister Debby Stauber of California; and grandchildren Hanan, Jessica, Ariana, Yonah, Efrat, Samuel, Talya and Rami.

He was predeceased by his infant son Mark.

Contributions may be made to the charity of choice.

IJN Associate Editor Larry Hankin contributed to this article.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Jack Goldman, 1998 February

Identifier: B424.01.0001.0006

File contains 8 x 10 photograph, slides, proofs, photo release and biographical information.

Dates: 1998 February

Oral History Interview with Jack and Margot Goldman, 1981 August 24

Identifier: B098.13.0010.00010

Interview covers briefly Jack and Margot's background, both originally from Germany (Margot escaped in 1939, Jack not until after the War in 1946), early members of the congregation, adult education, school programming and youth group at the synagogue.

Dates: 1981 August 24

Sharon Berkowitz Portrait Collection

 Collection — Object B424.02.0006: [Barcode: U186023257692]
Identifier: B424

Sharon Berkowitz took photographs of Holocaust survivors in Denver and created a photographic exhibit for the City and County of Denver. The exhibit was entitled "Show me, I remember: Denver and the Holocaust." The collection contains exhibition panels, photographs, negatives and documents relating to the photographic exhibit

Dates: 1995-1999