Obituaries | Attorney-activist Daniel Goldberg

San Francisco attorney and longtime Bay Area Jewish community leader Daniel Goldberg died May 16 in the city he loved and lived in nearly all his life. He was 98.

Goldberg served as in-house attorney and board member  of the Hebrew Free Loan Association from the late 1940s. He served in similar capacities for Sinai Memorial Chapel, and was on the boards of Congregation Emanu-El and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Eventually, he left the staff of Hebrew Free Loan, but remained on its board for decades, serving as president from 1966 to 1968.

“He was one of those people who was very present in the moment,” said son Lawrence Goldberg. “He had a great sense of what was important and what was frivolous. While he appreciated the frivolous, he always did what needed to be done. He was a service-oriented individual.”

Born in Lithuania to an Orthodox family, Goldberg moved west in 1927 with his widowed mother and four siblings. He graduated from U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law in 1939, working his way through school as a hotel valet and tailor.

He worked for the Social Security Administration in Washington, D.C., for several years before returning to San Francisco to start a private law practice. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Goldberg joined the Army, serving in Sitka, Alaska, as a lawyer.

After the war, he returned to the Social Security Administration before accepting the job with Hebrew Free Loan. He returned later to private practice.

After meeting on a blind date, Goldberg married Tanette Estelle Westerman, who was active with JCRC and the National Council of Jewish Women. The couple had four children.

Their son remembers huge Passover and Hanukkah celebrations in a house filled with love and laughter. “He was a master punster,” Lawrence Goldberg said. “Dad never lost an opportunity for humor in the house.”

A very close couple, the Goldbergs played two games of cribbage every night. Tanette died last year, after 63 years of marriage. Her husband said Kaddish for her every Friday night for a year.

Over his long life, Goldberg devoted much of his civic energy to the Jewish community. In 1967 he was given a commemorative plaque from the agency he served so long and so well. It reads in part: “The Hebrew Free Loan Association bestows upon Daniel Goldberg the Gemilut Hesed Award for deeds of loving kindness demonstrated by his selfless devotion and dedication to the Bay Area Jewish Community.”

Daniel Goldberg is survived by sons Lawrence Goldberg of Burbank and Steve Goldberg of Santa Rosa; daughters Kayla Goldberg of Novato and Dena Gardi of San Francisco; and six grandchildren.


Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.