Sonia Goldstein ... a visit to Tel Aviv galvanized her passion for Zionism
Sonia’s early life was far from ideal.Her parents fled the pogroms in Poland and arrived in Cuba as the US closed its shores to immigrants, while Cuba welcomed them. She and her younger sister, Marsha, were born in Havana. By the time Sonia was four, her parents had divorced. Her mother had to find work in order to support herself and her two tiny daughters. However, being from a small village in Poland, her choices and opportunities were few. She found a job as a housekeeper for a wealthy Cuban family, but there was one condition: she could bring only one of her daughters with her – a heart wrenching decision for any mother. It was my Sonia, being the older one, who was to be sent to New York to be raised by her aunt – her beloved Tante.
Her Tante loved her dearly, but after one year her husband became ill with tuberculosis and Sonia was sent back to Cuba to live in a Catholic orphanage. A year later she was once again returned to her Tante. Fifteen long years passed before she was reunited with her mother and sister when they finally arrived in the US. During that time she corresponded with her mother, sending photographs to document her development. Many of these photographs were found among Sonia’s vast collection.
Sonia’s childhood was wrought with loneliness, disconnectedness, and feelings of being an outsider. When talking about her youthful years, she said she was always dependent on the goodwill of others, and she suffered from the fear that love may be taken away.
These experiences left a scar in the soul of that young child – a scar that would make her strong-minded and opinionated. There was no swaying her when her mind was made up, but as tough as she was when it came to her opinions, so she was soft when it came to her family. That same scar had also taught her how important family was.
These very difficult early years of Sonia’s life enabled her to develop an intense sensitivity for those in need, those who felt that they didn’t really belong, or those who suffered from loneliness. Her personal history gave her the ability to recognize these feelings in others. She was able to create a kind of safe place, a haven, and with just a cuddle, a kiss or a kind word, was able to ease their pain.
Sonia chose nursing as her profession. After her marriage, while bringing up two children, she studied nursing, earned a first degree and a Masters, and went on to teach nursing.
Somewhere in her youth she became inspired by her Jewishness, and it became for her a lifelong commitment and passion. A trip with her father to Palestine to visit cousins in Tel Aviv galvanized her passions about Zionism.
In the early 1970s she immigrated to Israel with her two children. She started off in Kibbutz Beit Ha’Emek, and many years later followed her children to Raanana. She displayed a ceaseless commitment to her beloved Jewish people and to Israel.
Sonia had many interests. She was an accomplished musician and loved opera. She collected Israeli stamps, coins, and medals. She loved Jewish culture and all things Israeli. She was an active member of theConservative shul and regularly entertained the congregation with Yiddish songs. She loved animals– to the extent that she would feed all the stray cats in her area – not always popular with the neighbors! In her later years she regularly attended a seniors club, where she was extremely popular and made new friends.
Sonia left behind her many friends and relatives who loved and admired her, and a veritable dynasty of two children, nine grandchildren, and five great grandchildren who all adored her and miss her dearly.
It is written in Mashechet Sanhendrine PerekDaled:“Whoever destroys a soul, it is as if he destroyed an entire world; And whoever saves a life, it is as if he saved an entire world.” This was the essence of Sonia’s being, her basic philosophy and belief regarding life. She was an amazing woman – mother, grandma, great-grandma and friend – and all who knew her were touched by her huge, generous,loving heart.
May her memory be a blessing.