Lisa Goldberg’s untimely and sudden passing from a brain aneurysm has left so many of us interested in Jewish women and their place in the world feeling unspeakably bereft. To say nothing of her wonderful family, her remarkable daughter, a freshman at Yale, as well as those other close friends and associates interested in urban affairs, Israel’s present and future, democratic politics, and so many other important areas of contemporary life who are also bereft.
Lisa was always there with the best idea, the quickest and smartest response to our question, the thoughtful and witty gift, the hilarious anecdote, and the largest store of general knowledge. She read everything in all fields. Her curiosity was inexhaustible. Her petite beauty was always apparent but was always accompanied by her overall modesty. When once asked what she wanted to be remembered for by one of her outstanding consultants, Shifra Bronznick, President of Advancing Women Professionals, Lisa said that she wished to be remembered for getting the job done as well and as quickly as possible. No tributes, no bowing and scraping. Let’s just roll up our sleeves and get to work.
With Shifra, the writer Nessa Rappaport, Rabbi Rachel Cowan, the executive Director of the Jewish Spirituality Institute, myself, Executive Director of the Nash Family Foundation, and occasionally the biographer Jean Straus, we met irregularly as the “Cabal-ettes,” discussing over lunch how to overcome the male-dominated Jewish world and get women’s voices heard and women’s suggestions incorporated into the work of the organized Jewish community. We discussed how to increase women’s visibility and numbers on the various commissions, study groups, think tanks, and panels that looked at Jewish life and could often affect how Jewish funds were distributed; how to get women the top jobs in Jewish organizations, how to help them be paid what their male counterparts were paid. We relished our triumphs, small as they were and vowed to keep up out work despite the obstacles we always faced.
When Helen and Josh Nash met with Lisa to seek her counsel about hiring someone to run their family foundation, she recommended me. I could never thank her enough, I used to say, but I would try. And she would always say it was nothing; since I loved them and they loved me, what was the big deal? But there are many of us happy in our work, who but for Lisa would be otherwise employed and probably not so happy.
In all the years I knew Lisa, about 16, I never saw her make a mis-step. She was always right—from her choice of a wonderful husband, to her stand on civil rights, economic opportunity, Israel, feminism, and even her wardrobe. From the broader world to her closet, she did the right thing. I miss her terribly.