Obituary: Elaine Goldman

Community-spirited journalist and lawyer with a passion for history


Until her final years, Elaine Goldman was always at the centre of whichever Jewish community was fortunate enough to have her as a member, devoting her considerable energy and intelligence to many aspects of communal life. She was also a lawyer, a journalist and a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, with a wide range of interests ranging from table tennis to genealogy.

 Born in Manchester, Elaine who has died less than two weeks  before her 84th birthday, was the daughter of GP Max Abrams and his wife, Ada. Two years later the family name was changed to Maxwell  the – ‘mad Maxwells’– so nicknamed because of their love of picnics whatever the season or weather.

 Elaine took science subjects in the sixth form at Bury Grammar School, planning to study medicine. But she ended up going to Manchester University to study law followed by Bar school, Bar finals and being called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn, followed by pupillage. She also did a modelling course at Lucy Clayton.

 She had met a medical student, Myer Goldman, at her first term at Manchester University at a weekend school for IUJF (Inter-University Jewish Federation) held in Liverpool. They got engaged on her 21st birthday and married a year later in June 1955. They lived with her parents in Manchester for six months, while Myer was in the RAF, then moved to Liverpool, where she lived in the same house for 44 years, the last five as a widow.

Between 1963 and 1969 their three children, Nicky, Jonathan and Amanda, were born. Elaine Goldman began a career as a  freelance journalist, covering law for the lay person, consumer affairs, and travel writing, with some broadcasting thrown in.  She was also Liverpool correspondent for the Jewish Chronicle for many years. In 1976 she became a magistrate, and also sat on Social Security Tribunals. Later she chaired Disability Appeal Tribunals.

Alongside family and work, Elaine and Myer Goldman were involved in almost every aspect of Liverpool’s Jewish community. Bnai Brith, Hillel House, the Jewish Historical Society, the Jewish Book Shop, WIZO and King David Schools all benefited from their involvement, and Myer Goldman also set up The Forum, a series of talks for retired people, which Elaine continued after his death. Their evenings were spent at meetings, and they felt that working for the community was more important than socialising or relaxing. They also believed in building relationships outside the community and were involved in the Council of Christians and Jews.

 Myer Goldman died in November 1994 aged 66, and five years later Elaine decided to move to Bournemouth where she threw herself into her new life. She edited the community magazine, Wessex Jewish News and she ran several day Limmud conferences. She went to shul regularly and to lots of communal activities, including playing table tennis, as well as going to concerts and going on excursions in the area.

She traced the family’s history with her usual attention to detail, even travelling to Stornaway to attend a memorial marking the centenary of the sinking of the SS Norge off the coast of Rockall, on which her grandfather had sailed from Copenhagen to New York to seek a new life. When each of her grandchildren were bar or batmitzvah she presented them with a personalised version of the family tree. At the end, she wrote a quote from Emeritus Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks:

“We are not the products of now alone.  We have a history.  We are characters in a drama that began long ago”.

Tragically, in 2013 Elaine developed dementia with Lewy Bodies, a particularly harsh form of the disease, combining dementia, anxiety and Parkinson’s’ symptoms. She tried hard to maintain her independence, but in the end needed support and in her final months moved to London to be near two of her children.

The difficulties of her last years in no way diminished her family and friends’ memories of Elaine, as an elegant, dignified woman who was caring and loving, interesting and interested in so many aspects of life. Her dedication to communal life is carried on by her daughter Nicky, who directs Lead, the leadership development division of the Jewish Leadership Council.  Her legacy lives on through her children, Nicky, Jonathan and Amanda, their spouses David, Maryanne and Naftali, eight grandchildren in London and Jerusalem and her older brother, Victor Maxwell.

Elaine Goldman; Born  June 14, 1933.Died June 2, 2017

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive