By ALAN SMASON, Special to the CCJN
Ned Goldberg, the executive director of Jewish Children’s Regional Service (JCRS) for the past three decades, found it hard to be the center of attention last Saturday night. If the truth be known, the very serious and longtime Jewish community volunteer was uncomfortable in the spotlight, where JCRS honored its leader and organizer.
The event coordinated by JCRS staffers with development director Mark Rubin giving overall attention to details, was held at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel, 555 Canal Street, in the Grand Ballroom on the third floor.
Goldberg’s grown son, stand-up comedian Adam served as an impromptu master of ceremonies. He acknowledged that many members of his family had traveled from out of town including his grandmother, Ned’s mother.
Adam Goldberg called up his Uncle Brian Goldberg, Ned’s brother, who also acknowledged the family members who were at the front table including some from Cincinnati, from where the family originally hailed.
“There are so many people in Cincinnati now in their fifties and sixties who mention that Ned was a big part of their life when he was at the Jewish Community Center,” he recalled. “I tell people all the time that Ned’s my idol.”
B’Nai B’rith International made a presentation recognizing Goldberg for his work by Hess and Margie Steinberg, JCRS board members. “We’ve had several opportunities to work with you as you deliver the vital services that JCRS provides,” said Hess Steinberg in making the presentation through a B’nai B’rith International vice-president. “You have made a personal commitment to those in need,” he read. “The occasion of your 30th year of service is an especially appropriate time to say ‘thank you’ for your selfless dedication. May you continue your efforts in good health and continue to go from strength to strength.”
Goldberg’s daughter Jodi reminisced about her dad’s long career and how his service to Jewish community has informed her own path towards being involved as a Jewish community professional in New York City. “I’m trying to channel Ned’s spirit,” she confessed, just before she called her father to the podium.
Deflecting all the attention, Goldberg admitted “I am proud of these lovely people, who spoke on my behalf,” he began. “However, I apologize to you all that you now know more things about me than you ever cared to know. As for myself, I now know more things about me than I care to know or realize.”
Ned Goldberg’s next referred to the concert across town at the Smoothie King Center featuring former members of the Grateful Dead. “I really wanted to be there, but here’s my response,” he confessed. “In response to their concert and how I feel about sharing this evening with my extended family, my friends from near and far and the staff, boards, success stories of the Jewish Family Regional Service, I’m calling my brief comments tonight – and I’ll try to be brief – the ‘Grateful Ned.'”
Goldberg had his former presidents and staff stand to receive acknowledgement from the crowd.
Finally, JCRS president Neil Kohlman presented Goldberg with a plaque expressing his and others thanks for all that Goldberg has done in his tenure at the agency.
The “Queen of New Orleans Cabaret,” Leslie Castay performed along with support from bassist Gary Lehmann, pianist and music director Jefferson Turner and drummer Bruce Miller, himself a former JCRS president.
The group performed a number of songs written by Jewish composers such as Irving Berlin and George and Ira Gershwin.