Suzanne and John Golden were honored for their decades of dedicated commitment to HUC-JIR and the Jewish People at the “In Celebration” Dinner in New York on June 3, 2019. The tribute dinner, which raised $1.65 million to support HUC-JIR, introduced HUC-JIR's new President, Dr. Andrew Rehfeld, to the New York community. Over 300 leaders of the Reform Movement, alumni, faculty, students, and friends of the Golden family attended the festive event.
Dr. Andrew Rehfeld, HUC-JIR President and the keynote speaker at the event, stated, “This institution is truly blessed to have Suzanne and John’s devoted leadership and tremendous support. Ever since joining the Board of Governors in 2003, John has applied his considerable wisdom and experience as Chair of Colgate University to help transform HUC-JIR. When Suzanne and John recognized the urgency of strengthening our recruitment, they were there to provide the essential support. When they saw that there was a widening gap separating American Jews and Israel, they created the Golden Family Hanassi Fellows Program. In so many ways, John and Suzanne have immeasurably enhanced the excellence of HUC-JIR.”
For over 16 years, John Golden has served on the HUC-JIR Board of Governors, including as Vice Chair, Chair of the Nominating and Israel Committees, and a member of the Executive Committee and leadership Search Committees. John and Suzanne established and have provided ongoing support for an endowment fund to support recruitment of North American rabbinical and cantorial students, which has now reached $1 million. They endowed and have provided ongoing support, which has now reached $1 million, for the Golden Family Hanassi Fellows Program, bringing Israeli rabbinical students to intern in North American Reform congregations. Since 2012, there have been 28 Golden Family Hanassi Fellows who have spent 110 weeks at 28 U.S. Reform congregations, guided by 81 American rabbinical, cantorial, and education alumni mentors.
Suzanne Golden said, “I am thrilled to recognize all the HUC-JIR does to make the study and practice of Judaism a joy and powerful experience. Its rabbis, cantors, and educators have exponentially added meaning to our lives and have provided our family with a Jewish tradition that embraces the past and carries us into the future.”
In his remarks, John Golden cited the many rabbinical alumni who have shaped his life and said, “We are proud of our ongoing gifts to continue to support the recruitment of rabbinical students.” Regarding the inspiration by his Israeli family members to create the Golden Family Hanassi Fellows Programs, he noted that “not only do Americans often know little about Israelis, but many Israelis often really don’t know Americans and are especially baffled by Reform or Progressive Judaism as religion in Israel is too often presented as secular or Orthodox.” He concluded that “HUC-JIR is both central and indispensable to the health and continuing growth and vitality of progressive Judaism, both here and in Israel and throughout the world.”
The Goldens are members of Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York and Adas Israel in Sag Harbor, NY, where John is co-chairing their current capital campaign. The Goldens also support the WUPJ Nestor summer camps for young Reform Jews in the Former Soviet Union.
John is a retired partner of Goldman Sachs and maintains his own private direct investment organization. Suzanne is a Board member and former Vice Chair of the Board of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, which funds grans for basic research in mental health issues. Suzanne was a founder of Suzanne Golden Associates, a pioneer in law firm outplacement, and of Suzanne Golden Antiques. The Goldens are the parents of two daughters who, with their husbands, have bestowed six wonderful grandchildren on Suzanne and John.
The Benefit Chairs were Michele and Cohen, Pam and Larry Tarica, and Bonnie and Daniel Tisch. The HUC-JIR Alumni Chairs were Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson and Cantor Mia Fram Davidson, Rabbi David Ellenson and Rabbi Jacqueline Koch Ellenson, and Rabbi Daniel Geffen and LuAnne Geffen, MAJE, MAJNM.
Watch the dinner video: https://vimeo.com/342107457