We’d Like to Introduce Board Member Bruce Goodman

Meet JFS supporter Bruce Goodman. In addition to generously contributing to the critical services JFS provides, Bruce is a member of the development and finance committees and joined our board of directors in June. Bruce recently donated in honor of his parents Stanley and Lois (Levitt) Goodman. We sat down with him to talk about what inspired his gift.

JFS: What inspired honoring your parents with this donation?
Bruce: My dad would have turned 100 on June 10, which reminded me of JFS celebrating 110 years of service.
My parents believed in the goodness and dignity of people from all walks of life, and so do I. My parents unconditionally loved us, were kind and generous, and instilled the importance of family in us. My parents had a spirit of caring and giving to the greater community, especially for families and seniors. Establishing endowments in various Jewish family service organizations was a cornerstone of our family legacy that we could continue to contribute to.

They would have appreciated my contribution supporting the sliding fee scale for mental health and senior services. I am grateful for the values of love and generosity they taught us. They had an endowment in a Jewish family service organization. There are many people who don’t qualify for insurance, and many people have had unexpected hardships given the pandemic and economic downturn.

JFS: What do you fondly remember about your parents as they aged?
Bruce: At age 96, my mother, with the help of my sister, made 300 blankets for children in hospitals and for homeless shelters. And she continued to play bridge and mahjong. While we were with my father in his wheelchair on the Minneapolis skyway system or in a doctor’s office, he offered his advice, “keep smiling”, and everyone did. And as a proud son, I will go back in time and give my dad a high-five for being the first Bar Mitzvah in 1934 at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul after a 50-year lapse.

JFS: Why did you get involved with JFS?
Bruce: I wanted to reconnect with my roots in St. Paul where I grew up in a family that had established Jewish roots in the area. We were congregants at Mount Zion Temple. My father was a successful businessman in a family run business (president of Goodman Jewelers). My siblings Richard Goodman, Susan (Goodman) Rappaport and I became active parental advocates as my parents’ health declined, as did many other friends in our age group. In addition, I served on an advisory board of social work and an advisory board for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas that gave me an appreciation for mental health and social work case management. And a friend of mine, the mother of the JFS CEO, recommended I talk to her daughter, Ruth Hampton Olkon. And the rest, as they say, is history.

JFS: Why are you so passionate about JFS?
Bruce: I totally believe in JFS’ mission of giving people in all communities the skills and support they need to meet life’s challenges and unexpected changes with dignity. I see the impact of programs for clients. I wish I had known about the caregiver and senior service programs for my family. I can build a bridge of hope and community for future generations. And the board members and staff are fun to be around!

JFS: What would be your wish for the future of JFS?
Bruce: I believe that endowments are a great family legacy, although volunteer time and any level of financial gift is an inspiration. I believe community empathy is needed more than ever, and JFS connects with clients and improves communities through collaborative strategies. You can go home again, and it’s great to be part of the JFS family!