Monsey Memories: Reb Daniel Goldstein, Z”l
The Goldstein family is synonymous with valiantly swimming against the current in America, and of building generations of Torah-true Yidden amid the winds of those times.
Reb Daniel Goldstein was a legend. In addition to his incredible tefillah, and his decades of teaching Jewish children—he one of the most instrumental figures in building up the town of New Square in Rockland County. Today, we take glimpse into his life.
Providence and Boro Park
Around the turn of the century, there was a rov in Pawtucket, Rhode Island by the name of Rav Yaakov Yitzchok Goldman, who raised his family as ardent Torah Jews in the midst of that spiritual wilderness. In nearby providence lived Yaakov Yekel Goldstein, an immigrant from Bucharest, who immigrated in 1902, where he worked hard as a plumber. These two families—rare outposts of ardent Torah observance in New England in the early 1900’s—were a perfect match for each other, and Moshe Yehuda Goldstein married Chaya Malka Goldman around 1920.
They settled in in Providence, and this is where their second son Daniel was born in 1923. In 1928, out of concern for the children’s chinuch, Reb Moshe Yehuda and his wife Chaya Malka, brought the family over to Boro Park. They were abandoning their entire lives, and a good parnassah for an uncertain future—and their mesirus nefesh for Yiddishkeit would continue to be of great necessity.
Reb Moshe Yehuda, like his father, was good with hands, and he started a printing business in his basement. And with this was begun the legendary Goldstein Press which is still in business, and whose enormous printing presses stood for years on the corner of 16th Avenue and 46th Street.
The Goldtstein boys learned in Yeshiva Toras Emes, and later on Daniel went to Torah Vodaath, also attending Camp Mesivta, under Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, zt”l. He eventually became the camp manager.
Music ran in the family’s genes, inherited from the Goldman side of the family. The story is told in the family that zeide Yaakov Yitzchok got his daughters a pianola (a type of self-playing piano which is operated by inserting special perforated paper), since they didn’t go to concerts.
Most of the Goldstein boys inherited musical talent as well—not least of which was Daniel. For many years, they sang in choirs, alongside the chazzonim.
In 1941, the following story took place, which made great waves in the orthodox world. For Rosh Hashanah of that year, Reb Moshe Goldstein and his sons—who were known throughout Boro Park for the sweetest ba’alei menagnim—were contracted to sing as a choir at a certain Boro Park shul (which is still around today). In the summer, however, they found out that the shul intended to seat the women in the men’s section, without a mechitzah.
They brought the she’eila before Rabbi Pinsky of the Sfardishe Shul’s “downstairs minyan,” but being their neighbor (On the nearby 45th street—where one of Reb Moshe Yehuda’s children still lives) he understood that the Goldstein’s really needed the money, so he demurred from ruling.
18-year old Daniel was a bachur in yeshiva Torah Vodaath understood what his hesitancy meant, and he took the question to the Agudas Harabanim, which issued this psak—which Reb Daniel carried with him for many years as a badge of honor: We declare that an orthodox shul may not daven without a mechitzah, and it is likewise, prohibited to daven there. Signed; Yehuda Leib Zelcer, Agudas harabanim.
His kana’us for Yiddishkeit is further evidenced in the following story. As is well-known, hashkamah minyonim for Shabbos morning (after which many people unfortunately went to work) were commonplace in Boro Park of that time. One Shabbos morning, Daniel ran into the center of a large shul and banged on the bimah, loudly protesting chilul Shabbos, and before the congregants understood what was happening, he was gone. He would print signs at his father’s printing press exhorting his fellow Yidden to keep Shabbos and other mitzvos.
To be continued…