Bennett Goldstein, the president and funeral director of Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks, died on Mar. 13. He was 86.
An “icon for the last 50 years,” in the words of his eldest son, Bruce, Goldstein began working at the funeral home owned by his uncle and his father back when he was still a student at Central High School.
One day, while his father and uncle were on an afternoon errand, a family came into the funeral home looking to make arrangements for a loved one. Goldstein, just 16, walked them through the process on his own, sealing the deal. He would spend the rest of his life growing his family’s business.
“Being around people and wanting to help people and helping them make funeral arrangements, he never thought about doing anything else,” said his younger son, Carl. He spent the rest of his life working 12 to 14 hours a day at Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks, rarely vacationing.
Outside of the funeral home, Goldstein, a Korean War veteran, extended his passion for service to the wider Jewish community.
He was past chairman of the board of the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Center for Jewish Life and president of the Jewish Funeral Directors of America. He was a trustee of Beth Sholom Congregation, a member of the board of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, and a member of the board of Overseers of Gratz College. He was also a member of the American Associates of Ben Gurion University of the Negev and American Friends of Magen David Adom, among many other organizations.
Both of his sons recall their father’s ability to turn a restaurant’s dining room into something a little more special.
“When he would walk into a restaurant, and we would all be seated, it would take him an additional five to 10 minutes to be seated,” Carl Goldstein said. “Why? Because he starts walking around the restaurant to see who he knew, and who he didn’t know.”
“He can work a room better than any politician I know,” Bruce Goldstein said.
And like anyone who could work a room, Goldstein had a talent for recall, his mind a steel trap for names. One of his friend’s mothers used to call him “the computer.”
Goldstein was not a “touchy-feely guy,” according to Carl Goldstein, but he was an attentive, loving father, who was “idolized” by his grandchildren.
“He wasn’t the type of person who was, you know, hug you, kiss you, but if you had a problem you went to him, you solved the problem together,” Bruce Goldstein said.
Bennett Goldstein’s wife, Sonny Nathanson, died in 2005. They had been married since 1952.
Bennett Goldstein is survived by his children, Bruce and Carl; his brother, Gabe; his grandchildren, Jason, Staci, Seth and Joshua; and his great-grandchildren, Samuel, Luke, Jordyn, Corey, Sophie and Brooke.
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