| Standing Ovation |

One Lovable Yid

Veteran producer Dovid Nachman Golding hosts a walk down musical memory lane

IT is with a heavy heart that I sit down to write this week’s Standing Ovation. I have just lost my dear brother Shimon Gedaliah a”h, the bechor of our family. My column is usually music related, and even though my brother really had very little to do with the music side of my life, he was actually very well known in the music business.

Somehow, and I have no idea how, Shimon knew everything there was to know about proper stage lighting. He was the lighting director at the first few HASC concerts and he pulled off some really complicated pieces, such as the opening medley, “Around the Year,” with MBD and Avraham Fried, at the first HASC concert. It was a nine-minute-long song, consisting of 48 different light switches, three different spotlights, an array of colors and designs. Some of the switches had a mere two or three-second duration, and I was extremely nervous about it. But he never missed a beat. It was flawless. I believe that what made him so great at the job, aside from his innate talent, was that — ever friendly and personable — everyone instinctively liked him, and he gave back his energy in kind.

He went to Yeshiva RJJ on the Lower East Side, where he received semichah from Rav Mendel Krawiec, and he was also a close talmid of Rav Shimon Eider. Shimon and his wife, Goldie ybdl”c, lived in Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn for over 50 years, where he was one of the most popular fellows in the neighborhood: He was the gabbai of the shul, the junior rabbi, and davened from the amud on the Yamin Noraim.

His Shabbos table was always filled with guests and open to everyone. Mike Sojcher of Neshoma Orchestra, who moved from L.A. to New York in his teens, was a frequent Shabbos guest at Shimon and Goldie’s home. At the shivah, Mike told me that he was just 19 when his father was niftar, and Shimon spent hours upon hours helping him navigate the new frontiers of his life, remaining steadfast at his side until now.

Whether it was back stage manipulating the lighting or taking pictures of Agudah VIPs, Shimon was always ready with a smile and a joke. No wonder everyone loved him


nother connection he had in the music business was that he was an amazing photographer. He took pictures at so many Jewish concerts and events. He was the official photographer of the Jewish Press and covered many political events, such as the Republican and Democratic conventions. At one HASC concert, he was unable to attend as photographer, and that was the year that Senator Charles Schumer was the guest of honor. Chuck came over to me backstage and said, “Where’s that funny brother of yours? I was looking forward to seeing him behind the camera!”

Shimon had the honor of filming many gedolim of our times, and was the go-to photographer at many Agudath Israel events, including the Siyum HaShas and Yarchei Kallah in Israel.

I’d like to share one story about Shimon and my father a”h. In the early 1970s, all the banks tried gimmicks to attract customers to open accounts. One of the most popular gimmicks was to offer free appliances to people who opened new accounts of $25 or more. In Manhattan, the bank that was closest to our home was called the New York Bank for Savings. It was located at the corner of 86th and Broadway.

My father and Shimon walked into the bank, went up to one of the managers, and said they would like to open an account. The manager said he would gladly help them. My father replied that he would like to open an account with $25,000. In those days, $25,000 was a small fortune. The bank manager was ecstatic. “Hold on,” my father replied. “I see you have a special offer, where anybody who opens an account for $25 receives a free household appliance — a toaster, a blender, a mixer, an iron, and more. So I’ll be getting a thousand appliances, correct?” (Of course, my father obviously had an ulterior motive for doing this. He was not simply trying to get his hands on a thousand kitchen appliances.)

The bank manager shook his head. “No, no, we cannot do that. I’m really sorry. We can’t just give you a thousand items!”

My father, who was completely undeterred, took my brother and they started heading out of the bank. The bank manager, knowing that his bosses would be super upset to hear that he lost a potential client worth $25,000, acquiesced. He said he would make sure that my father received 500 appliances in the next few weeks.


nd so it began. Shimon was the head of our family group, and every day after school, Shimon took all of us brothers to the bank, where we’d load up and carry as much as we were physically able to up to our apartment on the West Side. It took us many, many weeks to finally have all the appliances in our apartment. At that time in Shimon’s life, he was learning on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He was very familiar with the appliance vendors in the area and he arranged to offer them two appliances in exchange for one appliance that was a 220 voltage, which could be used in Israel. At that time in Israel, the poverty was very great and small kitchen appliances were for many an unattainable luxury.

Every Sunday after we left yeshivah, we would travel to the Lower East Side with Shimon in charge, taking as many toasters , blenders, and mixers as we could shlep and making a two-for-one exchange for products that would be compatible with Israeli electricity, along with tablecloths and bedding. Soon, Shimon and our family had hundreds of items that were awaiting a new home.

That summer, my father arranged a very big family trip to Israel through our travel agent, Nachman Elbaum of Ideal Tours. My father told Nachman that he would be buying many tickets to Eretz Yisrael on the condition that we were able to take the appliances along with us on the plane. Being the talented agent that he was, Nachman got permission for us to fly with our appliances. Once again, Shimon took charge when we got there, and we went straight to Geula and Meah Shearim and distributed the appliances to families in need. I cannot tell you how many families were affected by this generosity. It obviously took a very special father to raise a son with so much ahavas Yisrael. But that was just Shimon — a special person who did everything with a smile and kindness, never letting self-interest get in the way. One loveable Yid.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 917)

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