Beth Goldsmith has been shaped by The Associated. She wants to shape it in return.
Sometimes everything seems to happen for a reason. Beth Goldsmith, the new chair of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, seems to be a product of divine timing.
“She is the right leader at the right time,” said Marc Terrill, president of The Associated. “She is a perfect combination of intellect and compassion that will help us navigate the new normal as our community recovers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Goldsmith, who was officially appointed July 1, is inspired by the legacy of her late husband, Harold Goldsmith, to help The Associated and connect the Jewish community.
She grew up in the Baltimore area, attending kindergarten at Temple Oheb Shalom. When she was in the fourth grade, Goldsmith was determined to become a teacher. Though she had a brief stint where she indulged in the dream of becoming rock star, Goldsmith eventually accomplished her goal to become an elementary teacher and stuck to it for six years.
Then, she met Harold Goldsmith. She knew him from around the community, and one day, he invited her to dinner at Restaurante Tio Pepe and to a party. “By the time we arrived at the party, we were already smitten, and it just kept getting better,” she recalled. “Best first date ever!”
She fell in love with Harold Goldsmith, a charitable millionaire immersed in giving to The Associated.
“He and I just clicked right away. He literally called one of the staff and said, ‘I met a woman who I want to get involved in The Associated,’” Goldsmith said.
The Young Women’s Leadership had no programs for working women at the time, but Goldsmith still found a way to volunteer. “They met Wednesdays, and I literally called in sick once a month in order to get the day off and learn about The Associated that way,” she laughed. She found herself becoming “smitten” with The Associated, too.
Harold Goldsmith wanted to take her on a mission with The Associated before they were married.
“They said I could not go because it was 1978 and they would not take an unmarried couple,” she said.
So he asked her to marry him so they could go on the trip together just a month later. She still runs into people today who will remind her they were on her honeymoon.
Goldsmith continued to pick up roles with The Associated. She served as women’s campaign chair for The Associated in 1986, as its annual campaign chair in 2012, and on the board of The Jewish Federations of North America and the board of governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel. She also served on the board of directors and as a co-chair of the Israel & Overseas Committee at The Associated.
“Her experience as the chairman of Eastern Savings Bank brings invaluable expertise, as well as her lifelong commitment to philanthropy through her work at the Goldsmith Foundation,” said Terrill. “She has earned this role by serving in a variety of capacities including chair of the Annual Campaign and chair of Community Planning and Allocations.”
Goldsmith is deeply rooted in Baltimore’s Jewish community.
Growing up, her Judaism was most present when the family gathered to celebrate holidays. Today, the Chizuk Amuno congregant’s Judaism is most prominent in her family connections, especially to her son, Josh. When he was just learning to count, he brought home a cute preschool craft he’d made: Shabbat candles.
“When your 3-year-old son brings home candles, you light them,” she said.
When they moved away and a Baltimore rabbi insisted they keep up with his Judaic studies, her husband took up the torch and taught him Hebrew.
In 1991, Harold Goldsmith died in a small plane crash. Josh was only 8 years old.
“That connection to his father was one of the few memories he does have,” Goldsmith said.
And just as Judaism connects her son to his father, so too does it connect her to her son. “I would say the thing I identify with as Jewish in my life is certainly family gatherings. My son does not live in the city yet so we light candles together over the phone.”
Goldsmith is proud to celebrate her Judaism with The Associated, too.
“The Associated is like no other place. It’s spectacular for many reasons. It is like a big family. It is an amazing partnership of the people and community builders,” she said. Of all the many boards she’s served on, “The Associated is without a doubt the best one that I’ve ever had the privilege to work at. That’s really how I feel.”
Previously, she’d been a lay leader for more than 40 years. From Terrill to the assistants, she said, “it’s such an incredible staff. They’re as passionate about the community as I am.”
This passion inspires her to make it even better.
“Here’s my modifier. Our system works because we’re always working to better ourselves to better the community,” she said.
In her new position, Goldsmith wants to track engagement, improve it, and fill holes in services they need to provide. She is looking at information like that available from The Associated’s review of services, which collected data about the nonprofit a few years ago.
“Technology needs to continue to improve, in terms of a full database,” she said.
Specifically, right now, she’s been in conference calls with board members to onboard fully and adapt to the pandemic.
“The Associated is here today because they were here yesterday. We exist to be able to be there,” Goldsmith said. “We are evolving every day.”
Ultimately, she hopes she can increase community engagement, and eventually, leave a legacy of kindness.
“I just want Harold to be proud of me,” Goldsmith said with a crack in her voice. She paused to gather her composure. “He was already very involved and started me on my leadership journey. Unfortunately, before I knew it, he was gone. And he started me on this path. I used to say that his death changed my world completely, but the truth of the matter is his life changed me. I am his legacy.
“The more time goes by the more connected I am to him. I hope I’m remembered for our shared legacy.”