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August 22, 2011 8:30 pm
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Sally Goodgold, A Spirit of the City, Dead at 82

avatar by Maxine Dovere

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At the 2011 Board Meeting of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Sally Goodgold was "front and Center." From the left, Michael Miller, Executive Director of the JCRC and the honourable Ron Prosor, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Sally Gottfried Goodgold died Thursday, August 18, 2011 at Lenox Hill Hospital. She was 82. The beloved wife of the late Dr. Murray Goodgold, adored mother of Iris and Jay and his wife, Karen, cherished grandmother of Michael, Deena and Jonathan and sister of Betty Gottfried. Simple facts – hardly enough to describe Sally Goodgold. Said her son, Jay, she was “an optimist and a humanist.  New York was her life – a life all about tikun olam, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel.” She had a drive to convey her values and concerns  Le Dor v’Dor.

Perhaps one could say Sally Goodgold had a third progeny, the City of New York.  Her involvement in the City began decades ago; she lent her spirit and expertise, talent and ability to hospitals, Jewish, secular and Catholic charities, museums, and especially, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the New York City Police Foundation, on whose boards she sat. The list of her involvements reads like a complete menu of what makes New York City great. Once called the “Mayor of Seventy Ninth Street,” Sally Goodgold’s horizons extend throughout the City. She was the first woman President of the City Club of New York, involved in the work of the Settlement Housing Fund, the Hayden Planetarium, the New York Hall of Science, the Park Avenue Synagogue; Civitas; the Citizens Union, and the Kateri Residences of New York.  She was President of the Channel 1 Working Group, consultant to the Women’s Bureau of the United States Department of Labor.

Goodgold, a graduate of Bucknell University, was the first woman to elected president of The City Club of New York. She was a Professor of Urban Planning at Queens’s College and in 1998, received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the City University of New York. She received an “Outstanding Citizen Award from New York City, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Planning Association, and has been honored by the Archdiocese of New York.

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“She was,” said New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, “one of a kind…a tireless force for good in the City and one of its greatest champions.” Calling her the “most omnipresent activist,” Kelly spoke admiringly of her ability to assure honesty in projects of every variety. Sally “made sure everything was above board,” and with a unique “bagel diplomacy” affected major projects throughout the City.  “She was the best urbanist I’ve ever encountered – someone who understood the cosmic implications.”  The Commissioner gratefully acknowledged her three decades of service to the New York City Police Foundation and her involvement in New York’s Crime Stoppers Program.  “Sally was plugged in; she knew the real score, and could be counted on for anything.”  Said Kelly “She delivered…New York feels a little different without Sally. She was irrepressible.”  Calling her “The Unsinkable Sally Goodgold,” Kelly closed his remarks, saying, “had she been on the Titanic, it would not have sunk.”

Sally Goodgold influenced both visible and hidden projects that made New York a better place.  From the “sunshine laws,” highway repairs, and bus shelters to the development of New York 1 and security issues, especially as the Jewish community was affected, the Goodgold effect could be felt. She was the founder of G&G Partnerships, consulting on projects with a “social benefit impact.” Almost twenty five years ago, the New York Post article described her as “an inveterate civic watchdog and tireless activist.”

Elliot Cosgrove, Senior Rabbi of the Park Avenue Synagogue called Sally Goodgold “a force of nature” whose work formed an “intersection of Jewish and civil life.” Even her final morning, she was “full of vigor and passion, arranging major programs.

Michael Miller, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, spoke of the book of Sally Goodgold’s life “replete with fascinating, unending chapters.”  Saying he remained in awe of her, Miller called her a “complex character whose work emanated from her deep identification as a Jew and a Jewish woman. True to her biblical namesakes, Hannah and Sarah, Sally Goodgold “enabled others, particularly woman, to blaze new trails….Throughout her life,” said Miller, “she knew when to be heard and when to be muted…the needs of the community were here needs.”  Miller graciously referred to the nachas Sally had from “her adored and adulated Ray Kelly.”

Noting that both her strong and her whispered voice would be missed, Rabbi Miller asked “how should we part company? As Elie said to Hannah, Sally, go in peace.”

The Algemeiner adds its words of condolences to Iris, Jay, Sally’s sister Betty, her grandchildren and extended family and friends. Sally Goodgold was a mentor, a teacher, unequaled in her devotion to the City and her ability to get a project done. Our Lady of the Challah will be much missed.

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