Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 20

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71
A
ng o f f
— F
a n n y
G
o l d s t e in
Jewish branch lib rarian in Massachusetts, and her thirty-five
years as head of the West End Branch form an integral p a r t of
the history of what used to be the thriving and colorful Boston
West End Jewish community. Here she guided the reading of
nearly two generations of Jewish men and women and children.
T h e West End Branch was housed in the West Church, one of
the loveliest early American churches in all New England. Built
in 1806, it was designed by no less an architect than Asher
Benjamin. During the Civil War, as Miss Goldstein told me,
at was a hideout for runaway slaves. She loved its spacious state-
liness and its soft, qu iet religiosity, and did all in her power
to preserve it from destruction at the hands of vandal politicians
who, off and on for years, spoke of tearing it down to make
room for an edifice of “more practical value.” T h e historian
Mark A. De Wolfe Howe, in his book,
Boston Landmarks,
pub-
lished in 1947, pays tr ibu te to Miss Goldstein for her labors.
Miss Goldstein re tired from library duties in 1957, after having
made of her branch library a fine institu tion of its kind, and
having amassed a very creditable collection of Judaica tha t has
already proved of great value to scholars. A special Judaica book
section in the Central Branch of the Boston Public Library is
named in her honor. H e r displays during Jewish Book Month
were superb, and the annual talk by a current Jewish au thor
was looked forward to by intellectual Boston Jewry. Another
practice she instituted was the annual Christmas-Chanukah party
at the West End, and there is evidence tha t this annual party did
much to foster good relations between Jews and non-Jews. She
was, in a sense, a whole inter-faith movement all by herself.
Perhaps no other Jew in Boston had the ear of Cardinal Cushing
more than she d id—and this meant a great deal in a city whose
popu lation is about 80 per cent Catholic. T he re was not a trace
o f assimilationism in her. She was a proud, positive Jew twenty-
four hours a day. Her dedication to Jewish affairs, especially
to Jewish authors and books, was almost incredible.
For the past ten years she had been suffering from a multi-
plicity of serious ailments which brought her in and ou t of
hospitals, and on and off the operating table many times. Only
he r closest friends knew of her agonizing pain, especially toward
the end. She probably knew she had a fatal illness, bu t as recently
as two months before her death she was planning to come to
New York in May, 1962 for the annual award-giving evening of
the Jewish Book" Council of America. She looked forward to this
event w ith special delight. As she said, she loved to see her
“baby” grow stronger and more wonderful every year. T h a t she
did come to the award-giving evening in 1961 was something of
a miracle. She told me tha t for the preceding four weeks she
had been virtually paralyzed from the waist down, “bu t God