Bennett Goldstein, 86, the former president of Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks and a leader in the Jewish civic community, died Tuesday, March 12, at his home from complications of neuropathy and a series of ministrokes.
In 1944, Mr. Goldstein’s father, Jack, and his uncle, Joseph, opened Goldsteins’ Funeral Home at 2129 N. Broad St. in Philadelphia. After attending classes at Central High School, Mr. Goldstein assisted his family at the funeral home each afternoon. He graduated from Central in 1949 and soon became a licensed funeral director working in the business.
In 1952, he married Sonia “Sonny” Nathanson, and then served with the Army in Korea. After his military service, Mr. Goldstein settled with his wife in Mount Airy and then Laverock to raise a family. Later, the couple relocated to Elkins Park.
In 1962, Goldsteins’ Funeral Directors moved to 6410 N. Broad St. in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. In 1986, Goldsteins’ opened a branch on Second Street Pike in Southampton. In 1992, Goldsteins’ merged with Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks to form Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks. The firm operates from both sites.
Mr. Goldstein said in an Aug. 13, 2001, article in the Business Journal, that he had turned down numerous offers to merge with big funeral-home chains, opting to keep the business in the family.
“Family was very important to him,” said his son Carl.
Under his guidance, Goldsteins’ Funeral Directors became the largest family-owned Jewish funeral home in Pennsylvania, his son said; with the merger, Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks became one of the largest independently owned Jewish funeral homes in the nation. He was president until illness forced him to retire in 2016.
Mr. Goldstein believed in supporting the Jewish community through civic work. He was a past chairman of the board of the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Center for Jewish Life, past president of the Jewish Funeral Directors of America as well as the National Brith Sholom, and past chairman of the Brith Sholom Foundation.
He was a trustee of Beth Sholom Congregation, a member of the board of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, a member of the board of overseers of Gratz College, and a past president of United Jewish Organizations.
He was also a member of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., B’nai B’rith, Hackenburg-Mount Moriah Lodge 19 F & AM, American Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and the American Friends of Magen David Adom.
Many of his civic projects were undertaken with his wife, Sonny, before her death in 2012.
“Sometimes, we would go to four or five dinners and banquets per week because of my business and the charities and organizations in which we were involved," he said in her obituary in the Jewish Exponent.
In 1982, he and his wife were honored with the Brith Sholom Communal Award; in 1990, with the Lion of Judah Award from State of Israel Bonds; and in 1992, with the Family Award from the Philadelphia Geriatric Center, now called the Abramson Center for Jewish Life.
In 1991, he was the recipient of the Golden Yarmulke Award from the Middle Atlantic Region / Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs.
His family described Mr. Goldstein as gregarious and outgoing. He enjoyed attending charity dinners, so he could meet new people and reconnect with others he already knew.
“Whenever he walked into a restaurant, it would take him five to 10 minutes to sit down,” the family said. “He always walked around the restaurant to see if he knew anybody, so he could say hello.”
In addition to his son Carl, Mr. Goldstein is survived by another son, Bruce; four grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and a brother.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks, 6410 N. Broad St., Philadelphia. Interment will follow in Montefiore Cemetery, Jenkintown. Shiva will be observed at Beth Sholom Congregation, 8231 Old York Rd., Elkins Park, Pa. 19027 on Sunday, after the burial, and on March 18 and 19, from 1 to 3 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.