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A Eulogy for Beverly Goodman z”l

Beverly Helen Goodman (Silverberg)
Chaya Breindel bat Shimshon v’Shaindel
August 19th 1937 – February 19th 2018

“Olam chesed yibaneh – The world is built on hesed, on loving kindness” says The Book of Psalms (89:3). Hesed is the biblical Hebrew for which the English word lovingkindness was invented by bible translator Miles Coverdale in the 1500s, who could find no other English word that felt right for this combination of love, loyalty, faithfulness and kindness. That word could have been created for Bev Goodman too, who built her world on loving kindness. In fact for several years Bev was the dedicated co-chair of our Hesed committee, along with Miriam Fields here at Bonai Shalom, lovingly helping to identify and meet the needs of members of the community.

“What does your God ask of you?” Says the prophet Micah (6:8) “that you do justice, love loving kindness, and walk humbly with your God.” What a description of Bev Goodman’s life.

Beverly Helen Silverberg was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1937 to Simon and Jenny Silverberg. They were both immigrants from Poland, but Simon couldn’t get into the US and went to Cuba and when Jenny travelled there to visit friends, she met Simon, married him and brought him back to New York.

Bev’s mother Jenny died of cancer when Bev was only 9 or 10, which really impacted Bev deeply, and perhaps led to her becoming a nurse.

Simon worked in a shoe factory, doing the best he could, but life was hard for Bev and her sister Sandra. Bev always wanted to go to ballet lessons and to Hebrew school, but there was never enough money.

Right after high school, Bev went to a two year program in nursing school at Brooklyn College and then worked in pediatrics, always loving working with children.

Beverly and Ron met in the Brooklyn streets when she was 13 and he was 14. I remember Bev sharing that Ron was so different to the other boys, not interested in playing stickball in the street, but always talking about interesting things, with an appreciation for art, swimming and boats from a young age. Bev was in awe of this deep and insightful young man, and they married in 1956 when Bev was just 19 and Ron was still in architecture school at Pratt College. They were married for fifty-five years before Ron died six or seven years ago and they were utterly devoted to one another. I remember how hard it was for Ron knowing that he was leaving Bev behind, already diagnosed with Alzheimers.

When Tamah was born, Bev became a stay at home mom and was very present as a mother. Tamah has wonderful memories of going to the botanical gardens, library and park with her mom. If there was time off school and with more money available than when Bev had grown up, Bev would take her children to the Natural History museum, planetarium, art museums, ballets and concerts with Leonard Bernstein. Tamah described Bev as a great mother; always there, understanding, responsive, even if a little over worrisome, compulsive and neurotic, qualities that her grandson Carlos would later learned to test, pushing the boundaries to see how long it would take for his grandma to yell out of her concern! Perhaps because of her hard childhood, Bev discouraged sports and athletics, as if being smart and wise excluded physical activity. Her dedicated support of Carlos’ basketball playing later in life was possibly a corrective to this! Bev would even tell the coaches to move out of her way if they were blocking her view of the game!

Not long after Tamah’s brother Gabriel was born, Bev went back to school for more nursing training and back to work at Deepdale Hospital. She was meticulous and a great nurse. Bev’s compulsiveness, however, was not the best quality when she was working as an infectious diseases nurse. Bev had a great sense of justice as well as compassion and she became a strong union supporter, not so popular with management.

She left and went to Bellevue psychiatric hospital, working with the mentally ill, and when she became aware of some of the staff abusing patients, she became a whistle blower – always an advocate for those who could not stand up for themselves.

Bev moved on to work as a school nurse for children with developmental and physical disabilities. She loved that job, caring and advocating for these kids, working with parents and sometimes testifying in court on behalf of the children.

Bev and Ron moved to Colorado from Great Neck when Sasha was born in 1995, where Bev continued for a short while to be a school nurse, which she stopped to take care of the grandchildren two days a week, and then later picking them up every day after elementary school. Carlos remembers that Bev would bring a whole meal to him as his after school snack.

Bev adored her grandchildren Sasha and Carlos, calling them Sashenka and Carlitos. She would always take the paintings they had done at school home with her and they would appear on her fridge.

Sasha says that Bev appears in her very first childhood memory of her first birthday party with all the gifts she brought. She also says that her grandmother encouraged her to climb trees, which must have been traumatic for her.

Tom, Bev’s son-in-law who loved Bev like everyone else and always somehow ordered the same food in restaurants, says of his mother-in-law, “she was principled through and through in everything she did.” Bev was an advocate with a great sense of justice.

The lack of diversity in Boulder was hard for Bev and she would often be heard to say, “Where are all the black people?” She would always make a fuss of people who were different and tell them how beautiful they were. Bev had a great sense of social responsibility and always stood up for what she believed to be right.

Beverly became very involved here at Bonai Shalom and loved this community and was loved back in her role as chair of membership on the board. I have spoken to quite a few people who remember their very first call when they moved to Boulder was from Beverly Goodman warmly welcoming them to the community, and often inviting them to her home. Later, as I shared, she co-chaired our Hesed committee with Miriam, giving so much love and care to everyone. I will always remember that warmth and passion she brought to this community, even though she has not been able to be here in recent years.

Bev was principled and overflowing with justice, love and compassion (especially for children and animals. Sometimes to a fault, as many of us remember well with the Choco incident). Her life was almost exclusively about other people.

Sasha remembers visits to the zoo in recent years and Bev taking much more notice of the kids than the animals and, as the dementia advanced, Bev would reprimand strangers for their poor parenting, so the botanic gardens became a safer place than the zoo. Bev always loved flowers and nature and would say how beautiful it all was.

Even up to end with her advanced mental illness, she did not quite know who everyone was, but knew they were family and would say “I love you, I love you, I love you” over and over again. Bev continued to think that she was a nurse taking care of everyone in the facility, like they were children in her care. In recent times, there was a man called Jimmy in her facility, and they always walked around holding hands, but, for Bev, it was not like they were lovers, but he was like her child that she was taking care of as his advocate. With her dementia, Bev lost her sense of judgment, but never her principals and always looked out for people.

Even when she had lost so much of humanity, her core was still so good, loving and caring. By the end that was all that was left. Her core of hesed, lovingkindness. Olam hesed y’baneh – the world is built on hesed, lovingkindness. Bev’s world was built in this way and, in her memory, may we all continue to build and repair this world through lovingkindness.

Tamah and Tom, Gabriel and Deborah, Sasha and Carlos and all whose lives were touched by Beverly Goodman, we say “may her righteous memory always be for a blessing. We wish you, the mourners, strength and comfort in your loss.

About Rabbi Marc Soloway

Marc is a native of London, England where he was an actor and practitioner of complimentary medicine before training as a rabbi in London, Jerusalem and Los Angeles. He was ordained at the Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies at the American Jewish University in 2004 and has been the the spiritual leader at Bonai Shalom in Boulder ever since. Marc was a close student of Rabbi Zalman Schechter Shalomi and received an additional smicha (rabbinic ordination) from him in 2014, just two months before he died. He has been the host and narrator of two documentary films shown on PBS; A Fire in the Forest: In Search of the Baal Shem Tov and Treasure under the Bridge: Pilgrimage to the Hasidic Masters of Ukraine. Marc is a graduate of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality, a fellow of Rabbis Without Borders, has traveled to Ghana in a rabbinic delegation with American Jewish World Service and co-chair of the Rabbinical Council and national board member of Hazon, which strives to create more sustainable Jewish communities. In 2015, Marc was among a group of 12 faith leaders honored at The White House as “Champions of Change” for work on the climate. Marc is a proud member of Beit Izim, Boulder’s Jewish goat milking co-op.

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