This past Shabbat morning, despite the raging snow and winds outside, about 30 women made a point of attending services at the Young Israel of Scarsdale. They stayed behind in the women’s section after the service to honor their friend and fellow synagogue member, Dr. Robin Goldman, by following her longtime practice of privately reading the weekly Torah portion after most of the congregants had left the sanctuary.
On this somber occasion, the women took turns reading the narrative, which described the exodus from Egypt, aloud.
Goldman, 58, a prominent local pediatrician, devoted mother and grandmother, and active member of the synagogue and the Scarsdale community, was stabbed to death last Wednesday at her home.
Her husband, Julius Reich, 61, a partner in a financial advisory firm, was charged with second-degree murder and is being held without bail.
“It was a very meaningful tribute to read the Torah portion together,” said Fern Oppenheim, a friend of Goldman’s for many years who described her as both fully modern and deeply pious.
She and other longtime friends spoke of how synagogue members are in shock and mourning over a woman widely admired for her caring, gracious manner and quiet and often private acts of chesed (kindness).
Rabbi Jonathan Morgenstern of Young Israel referred to Goldman as “a queen” and righteous woman.
Debbie Schrag, a close friend for 27 years, noted that on Shabbat, Goldman regularly was called on at home to tend to children who were ill or had an accident. “She loved being a doctor, loved helping people.”
It was noted that on occasion Goldman prepared shiva meals for people she did not know personally; that immediately on hearing of the death of a friend’s parent, she left work and got on a plane to be at the funeral; and that she was always there for her three adult children, bringing them food for Shabbat or even driving into Manhattan to walk her daughter’s dog.
Among Goldman’s activities were serving as president of the PTA at SAR School in Riverdale, and on the Ramaz School parents’ council in Manhattan, hosting an NYU Chabad parlor meeting, chairing her synagogue’s adult education committee and co-editing its cookbook, and regularly attending a variety of Jewish learning classes at her synagogue and others.
Schrag said she and Goldman often went to the classes together and discussed paths and challenges of spirituality within Judaism, including maintaining one’s faith in the face of hardship or tragedy.
“She had a beautiful spirit,” Schrag said.
At the funeral last Thursday in the Young Israel, which was packed to overflowing with hundreds of people, her children said their mother had three pillars in her life: family, faith and community.
They referred to her as “supermom” and related stories of her deep devotion, always having time for them despite the pressures of her medical practice and teaching at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. A number of her professional colleagues and students were in attendance, some wearing their hospital scrubs.
Daughter Alyssa, addressing her mother in a eulogy, said, “You were able to be in three places at once, bake the world’s best mandel bread, achieve the record for the most emails before 6:30 a.m., and defy aging by having the beauty of a 20-year-old.
“You taught us to love and support each other always, and that the strength we have as a family could get us through anything.”
“She felt a personal mission to rescue Jewish things, no joke,” son Adam said in his remarks, referring to his mother’s interest in finding Judaica items at sales. He mused that his mother even “saved my grandmother’s last batch of meatballs for 15 years — something like that — in the freezer. They were only thrown out because of a power outage.”
Youngest child Jenna, a student at NYU, noted that she came home early from a month-abroad program in Australia last week to be able to make a shiva call to the family of Daniella Moffson, her friend who was killed in a bus accident in Honduras. “Just come home safe,” Jenna said her mother told her on the phone.
Ironically, Jenna’s early return to the U.S. made it possible for her to be at her mother’s funeral, given the 24-hour traveling time from Australia to New York and the traditional religious custom of prompt burial.
“She found strength in Hashem even in the hardest of times,” Jenna said in her eulogy. “For you, Mom, I will continue believing, even in the face of tragedy.”