Friday, May 12, 2006

Uncle Marvin

Today is Pesach Sheni, which in our family brings to mind just one thought: Uncle Marvin. I can't believe it's already been 17 years since my father's older (and only) brother, Marvin Goldish, passed away suddenly on a trip to America from Israel, where he lived. Like this year, Pesach Sheni was on a Friday - this meant that my father was unable to even tell my aunt and first cousins (who were all in their late 20's at the time... their kids are my age) until after Shabbos ended.

I still remember the day all too well. I was 5 years old, and walking excitedly back to our house, knowing Uncle Marvin would be there. I ran to the side door and knocked, and someone opened the door - I asked, smiling, "Where's Uncle Marvin?!" and ran into the living room. I saw everyone sitting there quietly, and someone explained that Uncle Marvin all of a sudden got very sick and was at the hospital with my father. I was very upset, having expected to play with my very fun uncle. I still remember my father walking in, just before Shabbos, with that look on his face.

Uncle Marvin hadn't made it.

He would be thrilled to know what his 3 children accomplished, even as they swung from his mentality to a Charedi one. His oldest son is a Rosh Yeshiva of a small Charedi yeshiva dedicated to helping boys who have trouble in the larger institutions, and is an accomplished speaker. He often speaks in the United States when he comes to collect money for his yeshiva... and he only flies first class if he gets bumped into it. He also has a DSL connection in the office in his home, with the Indians as his homepage. Heh. He has 10 children, 3 of whom are married, one with 1 child and another with twins born a few months prematurely.

My uncle's daughter, a math teacher in Neve Ya'akov, is incredibly raising 7 children on her own - I lived down the block from them for 6 months, and they are nothing short of astonishing. We have a beautiful painting in our apartment of Kever Rochel [Rachel's Tomb] that one of the girls drew for us when she was just 12. My uncle's younger son is a well-respected (re: genius) learning man who learns in R' Efrati's kollel in Jerusalem, and has put out a couple of small seforim. He, too, has 7 children, and I'm waiting for the oldest to put out a CD, perhaps with his brothers' help, at some point. I have *never* heard a kid with a better voice, and he was composing songs at 14.

All in all, my uncle would be bursting with pride. His 3 kids, 24 grandchildren - three of them named for him - and 3 great-grandchildren are happy, healthy, bright, talented, and sweet. I was very close with all of them throughout the two years I was in Israel, watching them grow so much during that time. To some, I was like an older brother; to others, a climbing toy. I miss them.

I was only 5, but I will always remember that day. I still remember the feeling in my stomach, the devastation on my father's face. I only wish I could have more memories of him.
Yechiel Michel (Marvin) ben Benyamin Goldish, A'H
d. 15 Iyar, 5749


  1. That's a beautiful memorial to your uncle.

  2. Ezzie, that was so brought me to tears. I'm so sorry for your loss.

  3. Ez: I didn't realize you remembered so much about that awful day. That entire weekend is indelibly etched in my memory. It's very hard to lose one's only brother so suddenly and at such a young age, let alone for the tragedy to happen right in front of me. He had just come in from Israel the night before, and I was so excited to see him. As you know, Uncle Marvin was nearly 14 years older than me, and was a true "older brother". I still remember being 8,9,10 years old, and being so proud because my big brother was both the head of the Young Israel of Cleveland youth groups, as well as Head Counselor of Camp Shor in Aurora, Indiana. As you said, he was very funny; I well remember him waking up the entire camp every single morning over the loudspeaker with a combination of rousing (and LOUD) music and very funny and silly "encouragement" to get out of bed.

    A brief biography - Marin Goldish was born on September 8, 1932 in Cleveland, Ohio to Benjamin and Mindel (Finesilver) Goldish. Unfortunately, his mother passed away from an aneurysm when he was just four 4 years old. For much of the next 4 years, his grandparents, aunts and uncles in Marietta, Ohio tried to raise him. But it was a very difficult time. In December, 1940 Grandpa (Ben) married Grandma (Hilda Kupfer), and Uncle Marvin's life became more normal, living with his father and stepmother. Over time, Uncle Marvin and Grandma became very close; they had a wonderful relationship, which has now continued through several generations.

    He went to Talmudical Academy in Baltimore, graduted in 1950, and then went to YU, getting his Bachelor's degree in Sociology in 1954. He returned to Cleveland and obtained his Master's in Social Work from Western Reserve University (now Case-WRU). In 1957 he married Rochel Elazary of Canton, Ohio and they moved to Chicago. In 1961 they returned to Cleveland, where they stayed until they made Aliyah in 1971. In Israel he worked for many years at Bar-Ilan, then worked for the National Jewish Welfare Board, the "umbrella" organization for the JCC movement. He was effectively their "Israel desk". In fact, he was in the States on business when he passed away.

    I need not dicuss his wonderful children and granchildren, as you've already done a great job doing that. I'm glad that you have such fond memories of him, even though you were so young.

    I recently found his Masmid yearbook from Yeshiva University from 1954. The caption next to his name states, "Laugh and the world laughs with you". That is such an appropriate for Uncle Marvin, A"H. Y'hi Zichro Baruch.


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