Name: Kelly Goldstein
Family info: Married to Jay Goldstein. Twins, 16, Will and Mackenzie Kressler, Juniors at RHS.
Pets: Hudson, 4, Mini Goldendoodle
I've recently learned on social media that you've been selling blue ribbons to help various Jewish organizations to aid families in Israel. Would you share about your personal connection to Israel?
I was raised in Armonk and Chappaqua, both my parents were Jewish, with my mom being raised in an Orthodox home in Brooklyn. I was Bat Mitzvahed and attended services in Armonk at B’Nai Yisrael where my parents were founding members over 50 years ago. While religion hasn’t always been part of my daily life, the customs and traditions of Judaism were. It was also important for my children to learn about their jewish heritage. We celebrate the holidays and I am hoping one day they will go to Israel on Birthright. Birthright Israel trips are open to all Jewish young adults, ages 18 to 26 years old who have not participated on an educational trip to Israel since they turned 18 and/or lived in Israel past the age of 12. Travel accommodations are cost free because of generous donors.
I also worked at a few different Jewish Organizations in my career and have many friends who are currently living in Israel and have been affected.
What inspired you to start selling blue ribbons in support of Israel, and how did you come up with the idea?
After watching the news for a few weeks, I just felt that I wanted to do something and I figured what better way than in my own community. I know the power of Rye Moms and thought that I could get some support. I had no idea it would be as powerful as it turned out to be.
How did you decide on the $18 price point for the blue ribbons, and what significance does the amount hold for you?
In the Jewish numerological tradition of gematria, the number 18 has long been viewed as corresponding to the Hebrew word chai, meaning life.
Could you describe the community's response to your initiative? Have you encountered any particularly heartwarming moments?
The response has been overwhelming. The first week I set up days and times for people to pick up the ribbons from my home. Because of the huge response, I could no longer deliver them. Someone suggested I leave them out on my front steps, but I wanted to connect personally with the people who were donating to this cause. The amount of people that stopped by was incredible. Some just wanted a hug and to say thank you. Others shared with me their stories and their connection to Israel as well as many who had family currently living there. There were a few tears and a lot of appreciation from everyone. I felt like I had just gained hundreds of more friends, jewish and non-jewish.
What organizations or initiatives in Israel are you supporting with the funds raised from selling the blue ribbons?
There are two that we are sending money to.
Rabbi Gropper at Community Synagogue of Rye, told me about a wonderful organization called https://my.israelgives.org/en/members/LOVESUPPORT. The money goes directly to the families affected by the war and we have sent over $5000.
We are also giving money to UJA of NY, where a friend is a Rabbi. They have sent millions of dollars already and while our donation might be small, every bit helps.
In what ways do you think your initiative has raised awareness about the situation in Israel within your local community?
I think that if anything, it brought more awareness to my community. It is one thing to watch the news and see what is going on, but finding out your neighbors and friends are directly affected truly hits home.
Are there any specific stories or encounters with people who purchased the blue ribbons that stand out in your mind?
I had reached out to Brian Jackson, at Rye Chamber of Commerce to see if he could send something to business owners in town that were Chamber members or subscribers. So many of the stores got back to me to participate and purchase ribbons to be displayed in their store front. When I went into stores or was hanging ribbons on trees downtown, I often had people stopping and asking what the ribbons were for. After sharing the story, complete strangers would hand me money and thank me for what I was doing. It was incredible.
Looking ahead, do you have any future plans or goals for your fundraising efforts, or are there other causes you're passionate about supporting in the future?
I am hoping to continue until the last night of Hanukkah which is December 15th.
I have had the help of a few special women who have taken on the challenge to deliver and hang up more ribbons. Dawn Merkel, Danielle Tagger-Epstein, Anna Leder, Lesley Findlay, Halli Gatenio, Elizabeth Thurer, and Rachel Felenstein. I could not have done this without them.
In addition to selling ribbons, do you have other passions you’d like to share?
Yes, I am about to launch a small side business in the next few weeks, that I have been passionate about for a long time. I have my masters in Counseling and found there is a real need especially for women to have support through the dating process. I'm starting a business of being a dating coach/matchmaker. I'll provide effective and empowering coaching that gives women the support they need to succeed in their journey. We will work together on dating strategies, self esteem and communication skills. I will also help navigate the overwhelming world of online dating.
I think we are so lucky to live in a town that really rallies when we need to. I have always been proud to be part of such a caring and generous community like Rye. It is one of the reasons I decided to raise my children here.