Doreen (Devorah) Goldberg was born on 1 July, 1924 in a private nursing home in Amhurst Park, Stamford Hill, London, not far from the Kurland family home at 19 Denver Road. Her father, Max Kurland, had emigrated from Latvia to England around 1910 to escape the Czar’s army draft, and had met Esther Scheinkein, his future wife, who was serving at her parent’s luncheon restaurant, Scheinkein’s on Whitechapel Road. Max hadn’t felt well and had been advised to go the famous restaurant to have a bowl of chicken soup.
The Scheinkeins were originally from Krakow and had immigrated to England at the turn of the century. Max had a successful confectioner’s wholesale business, Kurland & Haskin, on Commercial Road, and was the first to import Sun Maid raisins to England from the US. There is a photo showing that Doreen was the first Sun Maid raisin girl!
Mum grew up in Woodberry Down, Stamford Hill and went to Skinners School. She was a performer and an entertainer. She won many prizes and awards for poetry and elocution. She would have chosen a stage career had it not been for the outbreak of the war.
It was at this time that she witnessed pre-war Anti-Semitism in England, slogans on walls such as “Jews go back to Palestine”, which helped form her Jewish identity and made her uncomfortable living as a Jew in England.
At the start of World War II, the Kurland family moved out of London to Harrogate, and when Mum was 18 she returned to London to study at secretarial college. She then started to work at the Ministry of Production, working for Somerset de Chaire at Whitehall where she was sworn to secrecy over the planned D-Day landings.
During the war, she corresponded with her future husband, Henry Goldberg, a British soldier in the Far East. Originally, her sister Renee had written to Henry, but then she met her future husband, so she handed the job over to Doreen.
Doreen and Henry fell in love and married in 1946 and lived in Brighton. Their daughter Rosemary was born in 1951 and they moved to North West London in 1953. I, their son, was born in 1955.
Doreen was very active in WIZO, becoming the local (Hendon) branch chairwoman in the early 60s, and becoming increasingly aware of and attracted to Israel.
Mum and Dad visited Israel for the first time in 1964 and again in 1967, and finally made aliyah in 1969.
After six months at Ben Yehuda Absorption Center in Netanya, the family moved to Ramat Hasharon, where they had bought a flat in Bialik Boulevard, which, by coincidence, had been built on land sold two years previously by the Meirovitch family, relatives of Doreen whom she had not yet met.
Mum worked for many years as an English secretary for citrus exporter Yakhin Hakal. After Henry passed away in 1983, she fought and won a battle with cancer.
She volunteered for ESRA in Ramat Hasharon to teach English conversation to young and old – at the local primary school, to a pensioners' class at the Beit Malinov Center and, privately, to children in her home. She also helped to organize ESRA's monthly lectures series.
She also sang in the local pensioners choir where she was the star soloist: she had finally made it to the stage 60 years later.
Doreen lived her dream. As she herself said, “I have been given the opportunity to live in my own country and to contribute in some small way to the history of our people.”
She moved back to England in 2005 to be close to her children, grandchildren and her sister Renee, whom she looked after until Renee’s death in 2008.
Just after that Doreen suffered a severe stroke from which she never recovered. She also contracted a hospital bug, C-Dif, and against the odds recovered from that. But the damage was done and she spent the last three years of her life at Cedars Care Home in New Barnet, London where she was cared for by staff of whom one can only say are “angels on earth”. Doreen’s health gradually deteriorated and she passed away on Shabbat morning, February 11. She was buried in Morasha cemetery, Ramat Hasharon, next to her beloved husband Henry.