BDE: Reb Chaim Yida Goldstein, z”l, Legend and Pioneer of Philanthropy
by YS Gold
We are saddened to report on the passing of Reb Chaim Yida Goldstein of Boro Park, a legend in the Satmar chassidus and beyond for his incredible generosity and his fervent avodas Hashem. He was 74 years of age, and dedicated his life to the service of his Creator and to helping his fellow Yid.
Reb Chaim Yida was the proprietor of the legendary 47th Street Photo, once the greatest electronics retailer in New York City, the center of commerce in the United States. Even at the height of his financial success, he stood as a towering model for giving, selflessness, generosity, and avodas Hashem to the highest degree. He withstood many tests in his life, and emerged purified and elevated, and a model to the masses of his admirers who are deeply saddened by his untimely passing.
The niftar was a Satmar chossid to his core. He was from the first generation post-Holocaust, born in Europe in the days following the great Churban. For the Satmar Rebbe, zt”l, young Chaim Yida would be one of the soldiers with whom he would rebuild a new world of Torah and chessed. He was always known for his sharp and brilliant mind, and for his diligence in learning back in his yeshiva days.
He became the son in law of the famed Satmar chossid Reb Leibish Mendlowitz, and he began to make his way in the business world, entering the electronics industry. With his talent and acumen, he built an empire—but it was not for himself.
47th Street Photo was the place that every Yid in need of a job could come and find gainful employment. “Reb Chaim Yida treated every one of his employees with respect, understanding that the greatest chessed he could do for them was to give them a job,” recalled one former employee. “In all his business dealings around the world, his shmiras einayim was legendary, conducting himself with ehrlichkeit and yiras Shomayim wherever he went,” recalled another.
Countless acquaintances and admirers from around the world recall that Reb Chaim Yida was the pioneer in tzeddaka largesse. He pioneered the concept of “kabbolas kohol” where wealthy people would open their doors to meshulachim. “It is sad that the current generation doesn’t remember this, but in the 70’s and 80’s, the Goldstein home was the first address for meshulachim,” remembers an acquaintance.
Wherever he would be giving, lines would form, and he would always give with extreme generosity. Countless families in Eretz Yisroel were supported by him—all in complete anonymity. Numerous buildings of mosdos around the world were built through his largesse—without a single sign or plaque attesting to the fact. He was a major patron of the Satmar mosdos, and it is said that the mosdos bank accounts were linked to his personal accounts. When funds would run out, expenses would be paid on his account.
His business ran into trouble, and he lost everything. And that is when a new chapter of his life of greatness was opened.
“He just sat down in Kollel, and remained there learning with superhuman hasmadah for decades of his life,” remembers a longtime Kollel member in Kolel Mateh Ephraim. “He was known to everyone as a great talmid chochom and masmid otzum, spending his days—which began in the wee hours of the morning—in Torah and tefillah.
Reb Chaim Yida endured incredible suffering in his life, and through it all he lived with Emunah and dedication to avodas Hashem.
He suffered a fall in the days before Yom Tov, and was niftar on achron shel Pesach at night. As per his wishes that there be no hespedim, and that the levaya should take place as quickly as possible, the levaya took place on Yom Tov morning with a handful of people—with the very simplicity with which he lived.
Reb Chaim Yida ascends to the World of Truth leaving behind an illustrious family of talmidei chachomim and marbitzei Torah, accompanied by an incredible life of Torah and chessed to which he dedicated his life.
Yehi zichro baruch.