Bill Goldman, 38, historian, philanthropist and Levi Strauss heir, killed in plane crash
Menu JTA Search

Bill Goldman, 38, historian, philanthropist and Levi Strauss heir, killed in plane crash

(JTA) — William (Bill) Sachs Goldman, the scion of a prominent family of Jewish philanthropists in San Francisco and himself a board member of the New Israel Fund, died in a crash of his private plane.

Goldman, 38, was piloting the single-engine craft when it crashed shortly after takeoff Thursday from an airport in Sonoma, California. His two children and their nanny were on board; all were seriously injured. The children’s mother, San Francisco attorney Serra Falk Goldman, was not on the plane.

Goldman was the grandson of the late Jewish philanthropist Richard Goldman and his wife, Rhoda, who was the great-grandniece of Levi Strauss, the founder of the famed blue jeans manufacturer.

His grandparents established the Goldman Environmental Prize, often referred to as the “Green Nobel.” Before closing at the end of 2012, their foundation was among the original funders of Taglit-Birthright Israel and supported religious pluralism, environmental causes and social justice in Israel. It also contributed the lead gift in a project to rebuild the San Francisco Jewish Community Center.

The New Israel Fund, of which Goldman was a board member, supports civil and human rights organizations in Israel.

“Bill Goldman was a deeply beloved friend, board member, and part of the New Israel Fund family,” Daniel Sokatch, the philanthropy’s CEO and a  personal friend, said in a statement. “Bill was fiercely dedicated to the New Israel Fund’s work to promote democracy and equality for all Israelis. His vision, idealism, and sharp sense of humor sustained us all. Our thoughts are with his family, and especially his children.”

Goldman was an assistant professor of international studies at the University of San Francisco, where he specialized in early modern Spanish history, foreign policy and political thought. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate in history at the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in history at Yale.

He grew up in Washington, D.C., the son of Richard Goldman and Susan Sachs Goldman.

He also served on the board of directors of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund, a family foundation that supports economic security, education, Jewish life and the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area. Walter and Elise Haas were his maternal grandparents.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.