Longtime JCRS head Ned Goldberg dies

In 2018, Ned Goldberg was honored at the JCRS annual Jewish Roots gala for his then-30 years of service to the agency.

Ned Goldberg, who was the face of the Jewish Children’s Regional Service for over three decades before stepping down as executive director in early 2022, died on Dec. 25. He was 72, and had been battling prostate cancer.

In an email to JCRS board members and supporters, his successor, Mark Rubin, and JCRS President Michael Goldman said “Ned led an exemplary life and cemented JCRS’s legacy as an impactful and respected agency. His life will be a guiding light for us at JCRS.”

JCRS was founded as a home in New Orleans for Jewish widows and orphans, and when the home closed in the 1940s, it evolved into a regional agency that now funds or serves over 1800 Jewish youth each year in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma.

The agency offers “needs-based” scholarship aid for Jewish overnight camp and undergraduate education, as well as subsidies for the care and treatment of dependent and special needs Jewish youth.

Under Goldberg’s leadership, additional programs were added, including “outreach” services to families that are isolated or inactive within the Jewish community. There are also programs that provide outreach over Jewish holidays, including Chanukah gifts for children from families that are suffering from economic distress, or are victims of natural disasters.

In 2008, JCRS started regionally administering the PJ Library program of free Judaic books for children.

Goldberg graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1973, earning his Masters in Social Work from Case Western Reserve in 1975.

Prior to moving to New Orleans to lead JCRS in 1988, he served in professional capacities with three Jewish Family Service agencies, or their spin-off projects, in Florida and Ohio.

When Goldberg moved to New Orleans, he was single, but upon his arrival, he met the woman he was soon to marry, Wendy Diamond, an employee of the New Orleans Jewish Community Center.

In 2018, the agency honored him on the 30th anniversary of his tenure, at that year’s Jewish Roots gala, which was unofficially renamed “Grateful Ned,” especially since the Grateful Dead were in concert elsewhere in the city that night.

Upon his retirement last year, he said his long tenure and the growth of JCRS was due to a “number of factors.”

“First of all, you have incredible dedication from the JCRS board, staff, volunteers and donors,” he explained.  “When you have them behind you, you can respond quickly to emergencies, as JCRS did during hurricanes and floods that have repeatedly hit East Texas and Louisiana over the last five years.”

Goldberg said having “wonderful services, hardworking and talented staff, and dedicated and generous board and volunteers are the reasons JCRS endures, and explains why I have tried to stay a few years beyond a typical retirement age.”

He is survived by Wendy, his wife of 34 years, and was a proud father to daughter Jodie Goldberg (Edwin Partovi), son Adam Goldberg (Rachel Hirschhorn), mother Joyce Goldberg, and siblings Elaine Brown (Richard) and Brian Goldberg (Robin), and many close nieces and nephews.The funeral will be at Weil Kahn Funeral Home in Cincinnati on Dec. 28 at noon Central, and will be livestreamed. A New Orleans memorial service will be held on Jan. 4 at 4:45 p.m. at Shir Chadash in Metairie.

(Updated Dec. 26 at 9 p.m. with additional information)