JUNE 7, 2018 – If a Jewish philanthropy Hall of Fame were ever established on the North Shore, then one of the first couples inducted would be Arlene and Mike Goodstein. The Goodsteins, who have lived here for 45 years, were key contributors to the construction of the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore and the original Hillel day school, now known as the Epstein Hillel School. They also helped create an endowment for the former Temple Israel in Swampscott, and contributed to numerous other Jewish organizations. The couple lives in Swampscott and has two children and two grandchildren. Their son Mark and his wife Sherri live in Newton and have two daughters, Elizabeth and Samantha; their daughter Shari and her husband, Robert Munro, live in Marblehead.
Arlene, you grew up in Malden. Can you tell us about your upbringing?
I grew up in an Orthodox home, and I loved every minute of it. We really kept kosher, and I felt very special and different. I grew up on Harvard Street, outside of Suffolk Square. It was a mixed neighborhood – there was a lot of anti-Semitism. Everyone called me Aushie, my Yiddish name. My father, Maurice Kendell, owned gas stations. I grew up in a giving home. That’s the Jewish way. My father never refused anyone. My father died when he was 44; I was 15. At the shiva, many people came to our house to pay off their debts. My mother never knew these men that my father gave money to. I said kaddish for my father at the shul. My friends, Arthur and Ralph Epstein, used to go with me to say kaddish for their father.
Mike, you grew up in Fitchburg and your father was from Jerusalem?
Yes. It was the early 1940s, and anti-Semitism was rampant; I would come home many days bloodied from school. And then I went to private high school, and it ended. My father was born in Jerusalem, came to Fitchburg, and was chief financial officer and treasurer of the Independent Lock Company. He was religious, and was president of many Jewish organizations: the local Federation, Israel Bonds, B’nai Brith, and the synagogue. He helped build the new synagogue in Fitchburg.
Arlene, why did you and Mike decide to move to the North Shore?
I was a teacher in Framingham and we had two small children and lived in Newton. My older sister, Honey Schloss, and her family lived in Marblehead, and my lifelong friend, Carol Rainer lived there. I loved the ocean. It was the best thing we ever did.
Mike, what made you want to get involved in charitable giving?
I ran a stock brokerage firm in Boston, Josephthal & Co. But I always remembered seeing my dad going out at night to Jewish organizations and meetings and helping out fellow Jews. First, I became part of the JCC in Fitchburg, I became active in that. When I came to the North Shore I continued. My father, Eli Goodstein – whose name is on the building at Hillel – gave scholarships to Brandeis, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and other places. I always felt good about giving; it was just natural.
You helped raise funds to build the JCC in Marblehead?
Yes. I raised more than half the money for the JCC. I took a week off from work, and went door to door to raise money with Sam Stahl. I was treasurer of the center. I believed in the JCC because it was a place where Jewish kids could get together and socialize.
You were also involved with the local Jewish Federation, and Temple Israel.
I was past president of Temple Israel and helped raise $1 million for an endowment there. When you went to Federation meetings or fundraisers, we were all one person. It wasn’t a question of what we were going to give. We all had the same feeling of Judaism, of Israel, and our community. People came first.
Arlene, you also held senior leadership positions with North Shore Jewish organizations.
I was campaign chairwoman of the Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore and then I became its president for a few years. I was also president of the North Shore Chapter of ORT, and vice president of the Temple Israel Sisterhood. It was very rewarding, and I met wonderful people. For ORT, we raised money to train people to have a career in Israel. I loved to raise money for Israel. I thank God for the people there. They’re so strong and courageous.
Mike, how did you get involved with Hillel?
My father retired and moved to Swampscott in the 1980s, and he became close friends with Bennett Solomon, who ran Hillel. Hillel was overflowing with students and had no place to put them. They were in the old Temple Israel and I was president of the temple. I suggested, along with my father, that our family should build a building for Hillel. We raised 80 percent of the building’s cost at a meeting at my home in one night. My father was the major contributor; the building was named after him. My brother, Gerry Goodstein, and I supported my father in this venture. It was exciting. I did it because my father was so involved with Hillel, and I wanted Hillel to have a building, and I also believed in educating Jewish kids the right way. The building is called the Eli and Mollie Goodstein Building.
Arlene, you also created a garden next to Hillel.
That’s right. The garden is named after my parents. It’s called the Sally & Maurice Kendell Gardens. I created it along with my sisters, Honey Schloss and Harriet Kendell-Kessler.
Arlene, what advice would you give to Jewish couples that are starting a family?
If you want to bring up your children as Jews, you have to live it in your home.
What’s your advice, Mike, to young Jewish families?
Become involved in a temple, have your children go to Hebrew School, and become part of the Jewish community. That’s the only way children will know what Judaism means – and it helps the parents also. If they’re not feeling strongly about being a Jew, sending kids to Hebrew School and belonging to a temple will give them a stronger feeling about Judaism, and the Jewish community.