Myrna Katz Frommer

Always Up Front

(2005 Hardbback;  ISBN: 9652293385)

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What they have said about the book:

"New Life for Biography", By Sandee Brawarsky, The Jewish Week, Nov. 29, 2005

...“Always Up Front: The Memoir of Helen Fried Kirshblum Goldstein,” as told to Myrna Katz Frommer (Gefen) is autobiography. Hers is the story — not often told — of the vigorous volunteer whose hard work propelled her to the heights of lay leadership in the Jewish community. Although she was the wife of three distinguished men, two of them rabbis, Fried Kirshblum Goldstein was known not for their accomplishments but rather for her own. She was very involved in Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, as a leader in Brooklyn, a teacher, speaker, leadership trainer, student of Judaism and eventually as national president.

As a young child, Fried Kirshblum Goldstein chose to sit in the front of the class, and that was where she took her seat throughout her life, as the title implies. She began teaching Sunday school at a young age, in the Conservative synagogue where her grandfather was the longtime president. From the start, she felt like she was on stage while teaching — and loved it. She worked in various jobs after high school, attended college at night, married, had two children and began her life of communal activism. After her first husband’s death, she began teaching college. Five years later, she married again, and took on the role of rebbetzin, in addition to her other activities. She befriended many faculty members and leaders at the Jewish Theological Seminary as part of her leadership work there. When she was widowed again, she married another Conservative rabbi.

Fried Kirshblum Goldstein was ever the forward-looking optimist. In the book, she speaks with surprising candor about sexuality, intermarriage, abortion, marriage and family. Before her death in 2004, at the age of 92, she endowed a chair in practical rabbinics at JTS; this book adds to that legacy.

Katz, who with her husband Harvey Frommer, has written several oral histories including “It Happened in Brooklyn” and “It Happened in the Catskills,” first got to know her subject when they were both teaching at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn. She succeeds in intimately capturing her subject’s seeming unlimited energy and dedication.

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