Wednesday, October 28, 2020 -
Print Edition

Four local authors: Goldstein, Dollin, Brackman, Jaffe

Ivan Goldstein's Hard to Forget, Hard to RememberWas Ivan Goldstein a Holocaust survivor?

Well, no, you would say. He was an American, not a European Jew.

He fought with the Americans in WW II.

That’s not a Holocaust survivor.

Excuse me? Ivan Goldstein went into the war as a strapping, 205 pound youth, handsome, strong, tall.

He came out 90 pounds.

Four hours from death.

Remember the stories of the Jewish concentration camp inmates who died four hours before liberation — or who would have died had liberation occurred four hours later?

That’s Ivan Goldstein.

He fought in the war, was captured by the Nazis — who treated their American prisoners of war (or at least some of them) just like they treated the Jews in the concentration camps.

Imagine.

His New York relatives send him off to war with every good wish.

Seven months later a skeleton returns.

To the same relatives.

At one point, one of his relatives is caught speeding so Goldstein won’t miss a critical appointment. The cop takes out his ticket book. The driver explains what’s going on. The skeptical cop says, “Yeah, where’s this soldier?” The driver points to the back seat. The cop, looking at the sunken shadow of a human being in the back seat, starts to cry, tears up the ticket, and says, “thank you for your service.”

Hard to Forget, Harder To Remember is Ivan Goldstein’s recently self-published “soldier’s tale of faith and survival.”

Besides the riveting war stories is the even more riveting tale, some 50 years later, of the heroic reception he is given in Belgium, where he barely escaped with his life from a burning tank, hit by the Nazis, during the Battle of the Bulge.

Not all of his comrades escaped.

Ivan didn’t even want to go back.

He didn’t want to respond to the groping, blind messages published in The Bulge Bugle seeking information behind the story of that tank.

Goldstein’s method of coping with his war time suffering was to bury it, suppress it, forget it. Yes, it was hard to forget, but even harder to remember.

He didn’t want to dredge up the memories.

However, great pressure was put on him. It was the urgings of his his grandchildren that finally pushed him over the top.

He went to Bastogne to a hero’s reception.

He saw some of his old war buddies for the first time, and identified the tank as the one he almost died in.

Not only did his children and grandchildren pressure him to return to the site of the action, but to write this book.

They did good work.

So did Goldstein.

The book is riveting.

It’s got a lot of emotional clarity.

Not least because, as Goldstein observes, he was the only one of his wartime friends who did not need major psychiatric help during his life.

WW II took a toll, and not just on the dead.

Not to mention, this book is not just about the war and its aftermath. Goldstein was orphaned young, and he includes beautiful memories of his mother and his brothers Jerry and Max, of Rabbi Daniel Goldberger and of what it was like to grow up in Denver during the Depression.

He recalls many Denverites and old Denver businesses, neighborhoods, fraternities and synagogues.

And this: Goldstein’s grandfather went to Palestine in the 1930s.

Some 60 years later, Goldstein followed to Jerusalem. His life takes Jewish history full circle.

This is a page-turner.

Illuminating.

Even if you’re not from Denver.

***

Tamra Dollin's L'ChaimFew people, perhaps no one, in Denver knew the late Rabbi Herbert Morris.

Except for Tamra Dollin and her family.

The rabbi was her father.

This rebbetzin at the HEA has written a warm and insightful memoir of her father, which, these days, seems to mean writing not only about how he lived but how he died.

With people living much longer, suffering extended debilities and dependent on their families’ care, the way people die can say a lot about their values and character.

Also revealed is the character of the people they leave behind.

Clearly, Rabbi (Chaim) Morris knew how to maintain his spirit and even his humor as he was suffering.

Guess what: there’s no degree for learning how to take care of an aging, failing parent. However, if anyone did offer that mythical degree, it would be Tamra Dollin.

This book could have been depressing, but L’Chaim, A Zayde Adventure! Memoirs of a Rabbi’s Life (iUniverse) is just the opposite.

The introduction begins with what turns out to be an ethical will. It is from her father’s remarks at her son’s bris:

“Every time I look in a mirror and begin to talk to myself, I say, ‘Nu, Chaim — Who are you and what have you done today to be a blessing to someone? You’re ALIVE in G-d’s world — now get busy and be a blessing.’ That’s what ‘Chaim’ means to me.”

Besides the beautiful sentiment, observe: Somebody wrote this down, and somebody else found it. How many people say, “I could write a book about my parent (friend, associate).” Everybody says this. Few do it. Tamra Dollin took the trouble to gather up the remarks, scraps, documents, memories and recordings necessary to write the magical book. That takes work.

More, it takes love.

Thus, in this book, you have not only the life of a long time rabbi in California, but his relationship with those he loved. When that relationship is exemplary, it’s a story not only for the family, but for everyone.

***

The best part of self-help books are the anecdotes and stories. To me, at least, the self-help theory always sounds, well, theoretical. Impossible, actually. Some- thing that works on the page and nowhere else.

But then there’s the stories. Real people. Real situations. Even if the solutions also seem to work only for the people involved, at least it’s real people you’re reading about. At a minimum, this can be entertaining.

The stories in Rabbi Levi Brackman and Sam Jaffe’s new book are entertaining.

And totally different.

What more critical self-help is there than for one’s finances?

The stories in Jewish Wisdom for Business Success are not vague. Emotional. Theoretical. Here you have real people and real situations at least one of which people have actually encountered.

The book’s subtitle is ‘Lessons from the Torah and Other Ancient Texts.’ Truly, a new take.

A story in this book might be about Targeted Genetics, a Seattle biotech start-up with an apparently rosy future in gene therapy. Then the bottom fell out and the company could have closed. The CEO did not give up, however. He fired two-thirds of the staff, concentrated on one compound and is now poised for an enormous trial of an AIDS vaccine in Africa.

So far, a Wall Street Journal vignette.

Then authors Brackman and Jaffe add an “insight for business” and an “insight for life.” Then comes a rereading of the story of the Israelites in flight from Pharaoh at the edge of the Red Sea. What’s the relationship between Moses’ behavior and that of the CEO of Targeted Genetics?

You get the idea: Torah illuminates business.

Along the way we meet Jacob the Patriarch, Rabbi Meshulam Zusha of Anipoli and a host of other Jewish sources of wisdom, and the lessons they hold for business.

We also meet the beginnings of a local entrepreneur named Larry Mizel, a chapter on how to cope with failure (check out Moses, whose first set of tablets containing the Ten Commandments were smashed on the rock), the Hoffman Agency (a PR firm), a few meditations, the rise and fall of Vonage, a pioneer in Internet telephony, and relevant precepts from Maimonides.

Do you like money?

Do you like Torah?

Check out this unique collaboration between a rabbi in Golden and a former business journalist who now runs a business consultancy for renewable energy companies in Evergreen.



Hillel Goldberg

IJN Executive Editor | hillel@ijn.com


Leave a Reply