(Mar. 25, 1886- Nov. 4, 1975). Sarah Goodman’s family moved from Vienna, Austria, to the United States while Sarah was an infant. The family settled in Ashland, Kentucky. She graduated from St. Louis (Missouri) Teachers College, then divided her time between teaching kindergarten and doing volunteer work. Goodman was instrumental in organizing 13 community centers in the public schools and helped organize the St. Louis Municipal Outdoor Theater.

Sarah Goodman stands before a list of Honor Roll for Founders and Investors for the State of Israel Bonds, n.d.
Credit: The Indiana Album: Cook Family Collection

In 1924, Sarah married Jack Goodman and moved to Indianapolis. She became active in the Matinee Musicale and the Little Theater, which became known as the Booth Tarkington CIVIC THEATRE. In 1926, she was named vice president in charge of arts for the Kirshbaum Community Center, which later became the Jewish Community Center. The arts group hired a small orchestra for a program, the origin of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Goodman was the third president (1946-1949) of the Woman’s Committee of the Indiana State Symphony Society and also served on the Symphony Society Board. She later cofounded the Ensemble Music Society and the Aspen Scholarship Association.

In 1938, Goodman dedicated her energy and persuasiveness to raise funds to rescue Jewish children in Austria from Nazi persecution. She raised $750, which was enough to save two children. Her strategy of requesting donations in honor of graduations spread to other cities, and enough funds were raised to save 1,000 children.

As a member of the National Committee on Youth of the United Jewish Appeal, she traveled to gain support for children and immigrants in Israel after World War II. In 1956, the Indianapolis Community Chest (United Way of Central Indiana) and B’nai B’rith named her Woman of the Year. She served as the national chair of the Woman’s Division of the United Jewish Appeal (1957-1961) and later served on the group’s national cabinet. In 1966, the Jewish Welfare Federation campaign was dedicated to her as a tribute for her work to help in Israel after the war.

During her lifetime, she was the only woman to be president of the Jewish Federation Of Greater Indianapolis (1953-1954) and the first woman to hold such a position in the United States. She also served as the national vice president of Hadassah and remained on its national board for 18 years. At the time of her death, Goodman was a member of the National Council of Jewish Women as well as a member and trustee of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation.

In 1977 the Jerusalem Music Center created a garden in her memory for her service as National Chair of the Women’s Division of United Jewish Appeal.

Revised March 2021

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