§04-10 Jack Goldberg

By Levi Clancy for לוי on

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I was Born on April 22, 1959 at a small-town hospital in Ceres, California, the first of four boys born to Neil and Carol Goldberg. They called me Jack Goldberg II. The "II" was for the namesake of my grandfather, Jack Goldberg. He was someone who had died many years before my birth, but who I knew very well during my life.

We lived in Modesto until I was 10 and then moved to Hawaii. When people asked me where I grew up, I say about half in California and half in Hawaii. Hawaii was a great place to be a teenager -- lots of good clean outdoors, sun, ocean, sailing, and scuba diving.

I got myself through Punahoe, a private college prep school in Hawaii. The public schools were so bad that you almost had to go to a private school. With lots of help and support from family, school, and friends, I was accepted in 1977 to the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. (Good grades were not my strong suit.) I was ready to leave Hawaii and knew that Honolulu had little to offer in terms of career and opportunities.

College was a truly wonderful experience. I learned a heck of a lot, made great friends, joined Phi Delta Theta (swallowed a goldfish), and met my sweetheart and wife, Nancy.

My Junior year was spent at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. This adventure left me with a much fuller appreciation of my religious and cultural heritage. Going to Israel for a year was just a heck of a good idea and something I'm very glad I did.

Nancy I got much more serious during my Senior year. After graduation (1981) I went north to Bellingham, Washington, to attend graduate school at Western Washington University. Nancy still had another year of school and I wasn't quite smart or mature enough to quit yet.

We both finished school, started our careers, and were married in Lake Oswego, Oregon (Nancy's home) in 1983. We rented a 600-square-foot apartment in Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle. I started my first post-school business, the REM Group (I had a wholesale fish company while going to school). This company lasted until 1987, when I took on a partner and incorporated under the name, Personnel Management Systems.

We were blessed in 1986 with a boy by the name of Brit Daniel Goldberg and then again in 1988 with a girl named Tillie Ruth Goldberg. Nancy stays home now and does the real work raising our children. We have a wonderful home just three blocks from our first apartment. Nancy and I are proud parents and couldn't be happier.

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Hawaii Jewish News/October 1980/Page 3

Israel: 'Its Only Real In Our Hands'

Friends approach me on the street and ask: "Jack, how was Israel?" Almost as a reflex I answer, "It was INCREDIBLE!"

Most people wil be satisfied with that simple remark. For them my having gone to Israel makes very little sense. For me, what I did and why I did it was and will be a significant part of my life.

TWENTY YEARS OLD, a junior in college, I made my decision and few 12,000 miles to a country that in many people'seyes is backward and militant with wars and bombs around every street corner.

I had no trouble understanding those who couldn't understand. Before I left I would ask myself if I really did understand why I was going. It was a big thing and I'm not afraid to say I was a little scared. Scared or not, I went because I had to.

Ever since I was a little one, Israel has always been an important part of my life. Our family was by no means religious, but Judaism was an integral part of our family.

I knew the basic religious precepts, usually those that involved the family. Jewish history was taught to me more by my family than anything else. I was proud of our history and of being part of it.

I was made aware of the contributions of the Jewish people both past and present. At a very young age I knew about the incredible suffering that my people had gone thrugh, and at the same time knew about the achievements and joy of being a Jew.

A fundamental part of my Jewish upbringing was knowledge of the Holocasust. The Jewish Genocide was never kept hidden from me. By learning about the Holocaust I not only learned the numbers and fate of our people but also some basic Jewish ideals and needs of my people.

I was growing along with my Judaism. My parents, though, even more than the religion or history or even the Holocaust, made Israel a part of my life.

For me I was Jewish because of Israel. The land of Israel encompassed all of the religion, the soul of the philosophy, the reason for our suffering and the resaon for our joy.

COLLEGE WAS MY turning point. It was a time for serious study not only of the arts but of myself. Like most students I attempted to sort out the things in life that were important to me. I had the time and the atmosphere to reflect on myself.

I have gone to school for almost three-fourths of my life. One thing I have learned is that the more you learn the more you realize how much you don't know. Almost suddenly I realized that I knew almost nothing about perhaps the single most important ingredient to my person, the subject of most of my reading and the topic of the majority of my debates.

Israel was important. But why? What made it so important? Why was I so proud? What is Zionism really? What does it mean and why do I feel responsible? The list is never ending. I had all the answers but they were all emotional.

I am a student and I couldn't accept just emotional answers. I wanted to know it and to touch it. I needed to know Israel as something more than just an emotion. The rest was easy. I knew my problem and the only solution. I don't even recall any alternatives.

IN JANUARY OF my sophomore year I walked into the study abroad office of my University. I told them that I wanted to study next year in Israel. Unlike some unviersities, my school had no direct program in Israel.

I was given a book listing all the programs for study in foreign countries. Under Israel I found a number of different study opportunities. They were all sponsored by U.S. universities or a private Jewish organizations[sic].

Within a week I had a very impressive stack of materials on my desk. I had set some basic criteria -- full year, transferrable credits, location, etc. I applied to and was accepted through the "American Friends of the Hebrew Univresity" for the Hebrew University of Jerusalm one year program.

For me the program was perfect. I and about 300 American students -- most of whom were from top Universities across the nation -- flew together to Israel in July for a summer Ulpan.

Even though we would take our classes in English it was felt that learning Hebrew was fundamental to being able to really get involved during the year.

THE UPAN was not all work. Each week we would take trips to every part of the country -- not as tourists but as students. We viewed Israel from the top of the Golan Heights to diving beneath the Red Sea in Sinai. We had fun and really learned about the country.

Regular classes started in September. Along with Hebrew I had the opportunity to take classes rarely offered in U.S. Universities. Most focused on Jewish history, religion, politics, Middle East and Israeli history, Jewish philosophy, Holocaust, and courses of a wide variety in non-Jewish -- non-Israeli subjects so we could fulfill requirements for our home universities.

I lived in Jerusalem for a year. I rode the buses, bought food in the stores, knew the best falafel stand and the place with the coldest cokes. I could pick up the newspaper and actually understand the situation and then somewhat intelligently explain the situation to someone else.

I traveled to refugee camps and talked with Arabs there. I studied and read, listened to lectures by President Navon, Yitzak Rabin, Chaim Herzon, Jewish leaders and Arab leaders, those to the right and those to the left.

After the border was opened a group of friends and I toured through Egypt. Truly an education. I worked on a Kibbutz at the Northern Israeli border and I was 'adopted' by an Israeli family.

WHEN SOMEONE ASKS, I'll still say "incredible," but it was a lot more. I didn't answer all my questions. I never really thought I would but I know I love that country and my emotions flow when I think about it.

I love it for the real reasons, for the things I saw, the things I did, and the people I met. Israel became real to me, something of substance and form.

Israel will always be in Jews' heart but only real in our hands.

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