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Born in Brooklyn, Goldstein studied at Columbia and Cornell universities. His work as an attorney has won him a reputation as one of the nation’s leading securities litigators. As such, he has represented some of the more notorious defendants in the financial world, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., which was facing class action suits after the 2008 collapse of Bear Stearns Cos., and the defense of junk bond billionaire Michael Milken, who in a plea deal was convicted of securities fraud in 1990.
At the same time, Goldstein has been a prominent member of the Jewish community, volunteering for the past 25 years as a lay leader of many organizations. He has served since July 2013 as vice chair of the New York federation. Prior to that, he chaired the federation’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal.
In addition, Goldstein chaired the board of Manhattan Day School and was a founding board member of Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education & Administration. He was also president of the Beth Din of America, a rabbinical court that mainly serves the Orthodox community. “He was a sounding board for clear advice on governance and procedure,” said Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann, Beth Din’s director.
Goldstein, who is an observant Modern Orthodox Jew, is a member of Kehilat Rayim Ahuvim synagogue in New York, but he also attends services at other Orthodox synagogues on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. He is married to Tamar Goldstein, a trained veterinarian and the daughter of a Canadian industrialist, and together they run a family foundation dedicated to supporting UJA-Federation. The Goldsteins have four children, all of whom were educated in New York’s Orthodox schools. Their two sons also spent time studying in a yeshiva in Israel.
Goldstein was among the chief American supporters of Rabbi David Stav, who last year ran for the position of Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi on a platform to end the ultra-Orthodox’s domination of Israel’s religious life. This involvement would place Goldstein within the mainstream of American Jews who protest the lack of religious pluralism in Israel.
Goldstein will not be the first Orthodox federation executive; Barry Shrage, president of Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies, is also Modern Orthodox. But Shrage represents an older generation of federation heads now on the verge of retirement. UJA-Federation has never had an Orthodox CEO. And beyond that, New York is not like Boston, or any other city. UJA-Federation is, in fact, the largest community-based philanthropy in the world.