DECEMBER 28, 2017 – Dave Goldberg has spent much of his life volunteering and mentoring kids. A native of Everett, he married his childhood sweetheart, Adele, who grew up in Malden. A former president of Temple Ner Tamid in Peabody, he has worked with hundreds of Jewish children, and served as the congregation’s Youth Committee chairman since 1973. He also coached Babe Ruth baseball in Peabody for 12 years. He has two children, Mark and Susan, and three grandchildren.
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You grew up in Everett?
Yes, we lived on Irving Street. We were Orthodox Jews, and my parents, Manuel and Sarah, were very active in the Everett shul. My father had a law degree from Northeastern, but then the Depression hit and the whole family’s savings was wiped out. His father had owned a kosher slaughterhouse, and so he turned to the only thing he knew and became the sales manager for a kosher meat department and serviced kosher markets all over New England.
In Everett, Jewish kids had to fight our way in and out of Hebrew School. It was very anti-Semitic in the 1940s and ’50s. There were 200 Jewish families in the city and the families lived in a little area of three or four streets with mostly Italian. We were attacked by gangs of kids just because we were Jewish, and they’d wait for us to show up at Hebrew School. One time my brother and father had to rescue us from a variety store. Eventually, we formed our own gang and traveled in groups and they stopped attacking us. Some of us were pretty big and many of us could fight.
How did you meet your wife?
My mother heard about a Jewish dance in Boston and told me to go. There was a young pretty girl there. I was only about 14 or 15 and she was 12, and her name was Adele. She was from Malden, and she finally decided to go out with me and the rest is history and we got married. She was 19 and I was 21. She went to work for Didax Educational Materials and has since passed away. I had a bachelor’s in business administration from Northeastern, and majored in marketing and advertising. I worked in sales for the Alles Corp. for 40 years. They sold packaging machines and supplies, and set up efficient shipping areas.
When did you begin working with Jewish kids?
We moved to Peabody in 1967, and joined Temple Ner Tamid. In 1973, the rabbi asked me to be the Youth Committee chairman and to head up the youth program at the temple. USY was very active in those years and every city that had a Conservative temple had a USY program. There were 100 children in our program.
My wife was involved with Kadimah, the youngest kids – the fifth and sixth graders – which was also a part of USY.
Before I took over, they never had sports – just meetings, dances, and conventions.
We had sports teams, and I was in charge of them, and appointed all the coaches and they reported directly to me. I coached the senior volleyball team, and we won 16 regional championships. I was also in charge of fund-raising for all USY programming. We raised funds by running Purim carnivals, raffles, comedy nights, and musicals. We also had private donations. No one was turned away from USY programs. We had a sports banquet held at the end of every year honoring our athletes, and incoming and outgoing officers of USY. I presented the trophies, jackets, and other prizes.
We also had conventions here, and we had to feed those children over the weekend, and the Youth Committee would buy the food, cook, and chaperone at dances. We also had art auctions to help raise funds. When people would see me they would hide because I was always looking for money to help the kids. By 1985, we had 250 kids – and our temple had the largest USY chapter in the country.
You also coached Babe Ruth baseball in Peabody.
Yes. I was the first Jewish coach in the league. I coached for 12 years, and I was also vice president of the league. I scheduled practice times for the teams and also ran all of the banquets, and helped them raise money to buy trophies and plaques. In 1983, we won the city and divisional championship, and most of the time we were in the top 3 or 4 in the city.
You also were president of Temple Ner Tamid.
I was president from 1980 to 1982. I worked well with Rabbi Abraham Morhaim. The biggest challenge was member retention, and finances were number two, and I had to recruit volunteers to serve in important positions. I enjoyed it, and I was also in charge of the expansion of the temple – they were building an addition, and I was involved in the fund-raising. We built some classrooms and a kiddish room.
You’re still involved with kids at the temple, and you have a new youth program.
Temple Ner Tamid and Temple Tiferet Shalom have joined forces to run the program. It’s called Youth Group of the North Shore, and it consists of kids in grades 3 through 8. We had members who had young children and they had no place to go as far as Jewish programming. We have already had great success with programs. The important thing is to have a place where kids can be together and schmooze, and be with other Jewish children.
Why are you so devoted to working with Jewish children?
Bringing kids together gives them a sense of belonging to Judaism. I think kids should have Jewish friends. They find common ground when they deal with kids in their own religion. My goal is to keep kids Jewish.