Ahavath Torah’s president, Lee Lasher, calls Shmuel Goldin “my wonderful rabbi, partner, and friend.” He says that Goldin has everything a rabbi needs – “the complete package. Intellect, warmth, compassion, kindness.
“He is a great teacher – he teaches a class on Friday nights for fifth through eighth graders, and parents come back to shul for it. It’s one of our most popular programs.” He excels at the pastoral part of his job – “when I first became president I tried to schedule meetings on Fridays, but Rabbi Goldin told me that he spends Fridays visiting members who are in the hospital. People don’t realize how much he does.
“I am at meetings that end at 10:30 at night, and Rabbi Goldin is still there. It’s really amazing, after so many years, to still have so much passion.”
Among Lasher’s fondest memories of Goldin are those during the Israel mission trips the shul has sponsored. Goldin would bring his guitar along, “and he’d play Peter Paul and Mary songs. He loves to laugh.
“He is very approachable. He is very real,” Lasher said.
Shari Gluckstadt, a longtime Ahavath Torah member, has worked with Goldin for years. As a member of the adult education committee, she saw that “he was willing to bring in a diverse group of speakers, to the right and to the left of him. He didn’t shy away from controversy.” He was the founding chairman of a group called Shavil Hazahav – the golden mean – and took a moderate position in favor of the Oslo Accord, believing in the possibility of peace in the Middle East. “He got hate mail for that,” Gluckstadt said. “But he refused to back away from his desire for peace in Israel.” Realities might have changed since then, but his authenticity has not.
Gluckstadt was on the committee that designed the new building. So was Goldin, and it was he who came up with the verse, from the Musaf service, that is in the central hallway that connects the rooms used by the various minyanim. “Veyeasu chulam agudah achat la’asot retzoncha b’lev rav shalem,” reads the verse. (“And make all of us one community, so we can do your will with a full heart,” it reads in English.) “The fact that he chose that pasuk, – that verse is so quintessentially about what he works to achieve in the community,” she said. “It’s a diverse community. The fact that we have been able to remain under one roof is completely to his credit.
“That verse is perfect. It’s what we all feel about the community.”