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December 02, 1994 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-12-02

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A quiet man
leaves $4 million
to the Jewish


ax Goldfinger would be unhappy about this sto-
ry if he were still alive. Mr. Goldfinger was a qui-
et, unassuming man, according to his longtime
friend Sidney Noveck. He was never one to look
for publicity or plaudits.
But Mr. Goldfinger deserved kudos for his char-
itable acts while he was alive, and his large be-
quest after his death Nov. 16 at age 94.
A former haberdasher in Detroit and then a
vice president of the H.M. Seldon real estate firm,
Mr. Goldfinger amassed a fortune in stocks and
securities. A man who never married and had no
close family survivors, he left nearly his entire
$4 million estate to the Jewish community.
Southfield attorney Robert Karbel said Mr.
Goldfinger provided that 60 percent of his estate
be divided equally between Jewish Home
for Aged and the Jewish Theological Seminary
of America. Yeshiva Beth Yehudah, the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and
United Hebrew Schools were designated to re-
ceive 10 percent each, and Congregation Beth
Achim and Hillel Day School will receive 5 per-
cent each.
If there are no complications, Mr. Karbel ex-
pects the probate process to take six to 12 months.
Rabbi Milton Arm, rabbi emeritus at Beth
Achim, described Mr. Goldfinger as an unobtru-
sive man. "He had a deep, abiding interest in the
Jewish community."
Mr. Noveck, with his sister and brother-in-law,
Sylvia and Leonard Handler, were Mr. Goldfin-
ger's closest friends. Mr. Noveck met Mr. Goldfin-
ger at Congregation Beth Aaron in the early
1950s, and they would walk home together from
Shabbat services.
Mr. Goldfinger and his brother Perry operat-
ed Maxwell-Perry Haberdashers and Thomas &
Forsyght Men's Shop. The bachelors lived
together in their parents' home on Indiana Av-
enue after their parents' deaths. In later years,
they lived at Knob-in-the-Woods in Southfield.
After Perry's death in 1982, Mr. Goldfinger moved
into the Fleischman Jewish Home for Aged in
West Bloomfield.
In 1979, the brothers endowed the school wing
at Beth Achim in memory of their parents. They
were supporters of the Seminary and the Allied
Jewish Campaign and were life members of Per-
fection Lodge.
After Perry's death, Mr. Noveck and the Han-
dlers became more active in Mr. Goldfinger's be-

Maxwell Goldfinger

The Goldfinger brothers came to Detroit with
their parents from Leavenworth, Kan., where the
immigrant family furnished supplies for the army
post: But, according to Mr. Noveck, lacking a Jew-
ish education in Leavenworth led Mr. Goldfinger
to a self-taught and lifelong interest in Jewish ed-
"He was dignified and meticulous," Mr. Noveck
recalled. "After all, he was a haberdasher. He
liked to read and take long walks."
The brothers traveled to Israel once and win-
tered in Florida, "but they didn't have wild par-
ties or spend a lot of money on themselves," Mr.
Noveck said.
At Fleischman, Mrs. Handler visited Mr.
Goldfinger at least weekly, and later supervised

his round-the-clock nursing help. While not as
well in his later years, Mr. Goldfinger contin-
ued to recognize the Handlers and Mr. Noveck.
Rabbi Avi Shapiro would frequently escort him
to services at Fleischman so he could be part of
the minyan.
Mr. Noveck recalls Mr. Goldfinger's generosi-
ty coupled with an aversion to publicity. "In the
late 1980s, when Beth Achim paid off its mort-
gage, I had to beg him to participate. He was hap-
py to contribute $5,000 but he did not want the
koved (recognition)."
Mr. Karbel, Mr. Goldfinger's attorney, re-
members his client's smile, friendliness and de-
votion to Judaism. "He was a very generous man,"
he said.

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