Questionnaire: A true traditionalist

Barbara Goldstein is deputy executive director of Hadassah's Office in Israel.

May 19, 2011 17:17
4 minute read.
Barbara Goldstein, director of Hadassah in Israel

Barbara Goldstein 521. (photo credit: courtesy)


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Barbara Goldstein
Age: 69
Profession/title: Deputy director of Hadassah Offices in Israel
Place of birth: New Jersey
Current residence: Jerusalem

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Attendance at morning minyan and knowing that every day is a blessing. I find it’s an inspiring way to start the day, a reminder of my connectedness to Judaism and to others, and an important reality check that I’m simply part of a much bigger picture.

What keeps you up at night?

Worrying about the future of the Jewish community of the US and concern about the inadequate Jewish Zionist education our children receive here in Israel. I am constantly trying to think of ways and means to address these issues.

What was your most difficult professional moment?

Having to cut a vital project because of lack of funding. As an organization dedicated to building and maintaining medical, social and educational facilities and infrastructure in Israel, it sometimes happens that we have to make tough decisions as to which projects we prioritize. We’d love to help everyone, but this isn’t always possible, and such decisions can be tough.

How do you celebrate your achievements?

With a Shehehiyanu. Also, needless to say, sharing successes with my wonderful family, friends and colleagues at Hadassah... Their unstinting support and hard work have been instrumental in every project on which I have worked. I consider my achievements to be their achievements, too. As far as representing Hadassah at the Yom Ha’atzmaut torch-lighting ceremony, this is something I am happy to share with Israel and the world. It is one of the most important things that the State of Israel does as we make that transition from mourning to gladness.

If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do?

Reform the electoral system so a prime minister could govern for four years after being elected. It is unfortunate that the electoral system creates an inherently unstable government, which can rarely see out its policy pledges to a full term. A system that establishes a more stable period for any government would give Israel a stronger mandate on the world stage and would give incumbent governments the opportunity to see their commitments through more often.

About which Israeli would you make a movie?

I can think of two amazing women – one heroic and one incredibly talented. Sarah Aaronsohn (1890- 1917), who was a member of Nili, a Jewish spy ring working for the British in World War I (sometimes referred to as the “heroine of Nili”), and Shoshana Damari (1923-2006), the Yemenite-Israeli singer known as the “Queen of Hebrew music.” I think both have been inspirational, and their stories deserve to be told and made popular.

What would you change in Israelis if you could?

Our tolerance level on all matters from traffic lights to religious practice. Manners cost nothing, and make for a kinder, more tolerant society. Israel is truly a wonderful place in which to live and work, but with more tolerance and patience, it could be so much more!

BlackBerry or pen and paper?

Pen and paper. I’m waiting for the Strawberry! I’m a true traditionalist, so it’s pen and paper all the way. I work with an amazing group of people who wrestle with the tyrannies of new technology for me.

If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say?
Something simple and attractive that emphasizes both the historical significance of Israel and its credentials as simply a great place to come on holiday. It would say, “Connect with the Center State of Jewish History – wine and dine, sand and sun; birthplace of extra virgin olive oil.”

The most serious problem facing the country is:
Partly, it’s back to this lack of tolerance. Road rage is endemic and makes traveling on our roads very unpleasant. In addition, we have a big challenge with our own Jewish/Zionist identities. It’s something that will always be hotly debated, but my hope is that this debate will bring Jews in Israel and the Diaspora closer together with Israelis, rather than be a divisive influence.

In 20 years, the country will be:
The envy of the Middle East. A truly cutting-edge location for visitors, both for business and leisure. Modern and efficient. Connected by highways, trains and airports from Metulla to Eilat.

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