Mark L. Goldstein

by | Oct 22, 2018 | Obituaries

Lehigh Valley , Pa.—Mark L. Goldstein, beloved husband, father, and leader of the Lehigh Valley Jewish community, passed away on October 11, 2018, after living with cancer for an extended time. He was 60 years old.

Mark served as the executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley for the past 16 years. The son of a Holocaust survivor, Mark committed his entire professional career to Jewish communal service and his life to Jewish causes. At 6-foot-3, he acted as both a literal and figurative pillar in the Jewish community and was an inspiration to all who knew him. With his signature mustache and Starbucks cup in hand, Mark worked tirelessly to bring the Lehigh Valley Jewish community together, to raise money, to strengthen programs, and to build relationships. He was a committed member of Temple Beth El and a committed supporter of the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Day School, Jewish Family Service, Jewish summer camps and all local synagogues. His greatest passions included leading the community on missions to Israel and dressing up for Purim. His leadership has had a lasting impact on the past, present, and future of the Jewish community.

Mark came to the Lehigh Valley in 2002 after a nine-year term as executive vice president of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. Prior to moving to Virginia, Mark worked at the Jewish Federation of St. Louis for nearly 10 years, serving the Federation in a variety of capacities. Mark also worked professionally for the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and was a regional program director for United Synagogue Youth.

He was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and was the son of the late Leon and Helene (Kuttig) Goldstein. Mark has lectured at Washington University’s Graduate School of Social Work on organizational dynamics and human service management. He was a member of the United Jewish Communities Executive Committee and a former chairman of intermediate communities, an association of 60+ like-size Jewish Federations. He recently served on the board of the Jewish Agency for Israel. In 2009, Mark was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Hebrew Union College for “his singular and effective leadership to Jewish Federations in Virginia, Missouri, California, and Pennsylvania, and for his talents as a fundraiser which have guided federations to new heights of success.”

Mark held a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California and a master of arts in Jewish communal service from Hebrew Union College. He was also a graduate of the University of Judaism, the west coast affiliate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Mark was awarded the Louis Kraft Award from the Jewish Communal Service Association, was a Sherman Fellow from Brandeis University and was selected for the Federation Executive Recruitment and Education Program (FEREP) scholarship by the Council of Jewish Federations. He was also the undefeated “king of kosher ribs” in Tidewater, securing first place at the juried Tidewater Kosher Rib Cook-Off Competition, and an Allentown JCC latke cook-off champion.

In the Lehigh Valley, Mark worked closely with the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College to spread the message of tolerance and acceptance. He shared his own father’s story as inspiration.

Mark is survived by his wife of 34 years, Shari Spark; his beloved children, daughter Carlyn Piasecki, and her husband Jason, and son Ezra; his sisters Esther Kelly and husband Ted and Marianne King and husband Roland, and many nieces and nephews. He is remembered by the hundreds of colleagues, community members, students, and friends whose lives he touched, and everyone who had the opportunity to share in his stories and his wisdom.

Funeral services were held at Temple Beth El, 1305 Springhouse Rd., Allentown, Pa. Interment took place in Beth El Memorial Park in Whitehall. Bachman, Kulik & Reinsmith Funeral Homes. Contributions may be made to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley or the Lehigh Valley Health Network Cancer Institute.