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Renee Goldway - profile

Renee Goldway ... looking back on her rich and varied life

ESRA's 40th anniversary has given us an opportunity to look back and recognize those who have enriched and enhanced our organization. The often-modest beginnings of activities and projects were initiated, in many cases, by those with passion and vision but always with a desire to provide the highest quality, the very best of the best. It is remarkable that many of the regular activities still enjoyed today were established decades ago. Renee Goldway is one of those with vision who demanded the very best.

As I waited for Renee Goldway in her apartment in Protea B'Kfar, I looked around at the original paintings, the many artifacts and sculptures and, of course, family photos. It is clear that these items are not there as part of a must-have interior design scheme, but they are a visual record of treasured memories of a rich and varied life.

Renee was born in Cairo, Egypt, speaks French, English, Hebrew and "a rusty Arabic, Egyptian dialect". She made aliyah in 1949 and spent extended periods abroad before returning to Israel in 1979.

I first met Renee, now aged 86, when I became part of the ESRA team in 1993, when she was chairman of the organization. My impression of her then has not changed when meeting her now, some 26 years later. Renee is a strong woman who exudes warmth, has a smile to put you at ease and an infectious sense of humor. Her no-nonsense approach coupled with humility means that sharing time with Renee is easy and pleasant.

The problem interviewing Renee is that her modesty and humility override all that she recalls, as she minimizes the information to an almost irrelevance. Describing herself as mother and housewife, she credits many of her achievements to the support and partnership of her late husband, Michael.

The Event 1995 at Wingate (from left) Renee Goldway, PM Yitzhak Rabin and Frankie Cronin

 Team Goldway was truly successful in the ESRA Ramat Hasharon branch, organizing a range of activities and several series of lectures. Under the guidance and with the expertise of Michael, the Goldways created and programmed Beit Malinov, a center for seniors. They moved on to establish the ESRA College in Raanana which continues till today, and formed a successful partnership with the Avshalom Institute. Next they turned their attention to trips both in Israel and abroad. The popularity of both trips and lectures was immense and they set high standards in all their endeavors. Once asked how they selected the destinations for overseas trips, Renee replied that they decided where they'd like to visit and were then joined by 30 others!

In the 1990s, with the mass immigration of Russians, Renee organized music concerts supporting and showcasing new immigrant musicians from the FSU, so that they could have venues to perform and to earn some much needed income.

Renee headed ESRA as chairperson during the years 1992 – 1993.

Renee replied to my question as to why she got involved in ESRA by saying that it is an organization of people wanting to do good, no in-fighting, just a desire to raise the bar as high as possible. Renee's organizational skills, coupled with Michael's vision and vast experience in education, led to the realization of their dreams – high quality activities appealing to a membership who demanded and deserved the best.

Renee recognizes that her contribution lies in her ability to organize and that Michael provided the energy and passion for education. Following her time as ESRA's chairperson, Renee and Michael continued to travel extensively as Michael continued to work for UNESCO, the World Bank and Israel's Foreign Office. They brought their thirst for knowledge and curiosity to so many, not least to their four children, who include an architect and professor of biology among them. Renee is the matriarch of what she calls The Tribe with 4 children, 17 grandchildren and 38 or possibly 39 great-grandchildren (Renee was apologetic as she couldn't recall the exact number but would need to check the list).

Thank you, Renee, for all that you created in ESRA, the testament of which remains today.

Renee Goldway with Merle Guttmann and guest at an ESRA event


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Friday, 23 February 2024

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