Mensch is the Yiddish term for a person of integrity and honor. It is also the word that perfectly describes our mother, grandmother, great grandmother and family matriarch, Lili Goldberg.
Lili embodies the American Dream. Both her father and mother were born in Russia and immigrated to America in the late 1920s. The family spoke Yiddish, the language commonly heard on the streets of Brooklyn in 1930, the year Lili was born. It was the start of the Great Depression, and Lili, her parents and her eight siblings faced an uncertain future together, but they persevered, and in time Lili became a bookkeeper and secretary.
Lili loved to dance. And it was at a dance that she met her permanent dance partner, our father, Bill. Dad cut quite a rug back then. The Mambo was his specialty. His moves even earned him the nickname “Mambo Willie.” They complimented one another perfectly – big, brash William and strong, steady Lili. On February 13, 1955, they were married in the Broadway Central Hotel in New York.
Ironically, Dad never gave Mom an official engagement ring. He said that he could never find a diamond that was good enough to give to her. But he did name a world-famous diamond after her — the fiery, 30 carat Blue Lili.
Mom’s amazing personal jewelry collection includes a fantastic D Internally Flawless ASHOKA® Jamie Ring, beautiful “Lili Chains,” which have become a William Goldberg classic, and a stunning Fancy Color Diamond Line Bracelet that our father had made especially for her, set with fancy color diamonds he had collected over the years.
Our Dad’s name has been synonymous with diamonds for decades. Lili was right there by his side, running the office as the company comptroller. She kept the records, kept the office running smoothly and, most importantly, she kept Dad on schedule. And she did it all while raising their three children – Saul, Deborah and Eve.
Early on, Lili began to document her husband and family in film and pictures. She’d say, “I want to have a history, otherwise, it’s just your memories, which, how much can you remember?” Thanks to Lili’s foresight, diligence and camera skills, we’ll always have Dad and his trademark cigar, their travels together to Belgium and the diamond exchange, and all the birthdays, anniversaries, vacations and family gatherings over the years.
As she begins her 87th year, Lili is still dancing through life. You’ll find her at her desk in the William Goldberg office four days a week. But she reserves plenty of time for her children, her eight grandchildren and her three great grandchildren. She considers them her life’s greatest accomplishment and has instilled in them a simple, but powerful ethic – have respect and show respect.
That is the legacy of a remarkable individual of integrity and honor. That is our one and only Lili.
– Eve Goldberg
"Lili's Dance Through Life"
Produced by grandson Samuel Goldberg and the founders of Doc Your Story, Daniela Mendelsohn and Keren Greenberg.