Goldfarb recalled as community leader

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By Kirsten Laskey

Irving Goldfarb passed away Aug. 22, but his contributions to the Los Alamos community and particularly to the Los Alamos Jewish Center, continues today.

His daughter, Lynn Silberman, recalled that he not only built the family’s home on Barranca Mesa, he helped establish the Jewish Center.

Silberman said her father arrived in Los Alamos in 1945 and worked as a machinist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Lynn and her mother followed Goldfarb in 1946. Before working and living in Los Alamos, he worked at the Rock Island Arsenal.

At that point, the Jewish community was hosting services in a dorm.  

His friend, Jay Wechsler said Goldfarb helped bring the Jewish Center to fruition.

“Irving was one of the pushers to get it done,” he said.

From the dorm, Wechsler said services moved to a log cabin by Ashley Pond that served as a medical supply and clinic. Plus, he said, services couldn’t stay there permanently because the building had no structure.

Therefore, 1961 construction on the Jewish Center began and the formal dedication on the building, located on Canyon Road, was held in 1963.

He commented Goldfarb helped bring the Jewish Center into reality by gathering community support.

Wechsler said people can push for something but their efforts will not be effective if they don’t get the support of the community.

“Someone like Irving was an asset when it comes to getting things done,” he said.

For instance, Wechsler said when trying to install a large menorah, Goldfarb came along to help with mounting it on the building.

“That was the kind of person Irving was,” he said.

Silberman added, “He was very active in the center. He always had the keys. If there was a problem, he would be there.”

Goldfarb was active in the community in other ways, too.

While his wife Ester helped found the local Hadassah group, Goldfarb helped found the B’nai B’rith, which mean Sons of Covenant.

Silberman said they did fundraising and other community services.

In fact, when Goldfarb built the family’s home, Silberman said, he made sure to include shelves in the garage so the Hadassah group could store things for its rummage sales.

Goldfarb retired from his job in 1975 because his wife was not well. He eventually left Los Alamos in 2001 to move to Rio Rancho.

Silberman said when people think about her father she hopes people “remember how much he cared about the continuation of his work with the community center. (I’m) sure that he would be pleased that it not only to survived but continued to grow." Her father was a quiet man, she said, but he was amused by many things.’

Wechsler said, “There are a lot of people that will follow … Irving was one of (those) who pushed for help, (which) made a big difference.

“(I) remember … Irving was always there whenever you wanted something done.”