You don't have to have a good voice to sing loudly. Never settle for mediocre coffee or men. And be proud of who you are.
Those were just three of the funny, sturdy and sometimes inspiring sayings that Dr. Malka Lotterstein Goodman showered on her grandchildren, words they recited this month during a memorial service when recalling her life.
The messages speak to the love and wisdom of a St. Paul woman who was fiercely devoted to her family. They also invoke the spirit of a child and adolescent psychiatrist who spent decades helping families across the Twin Cities through her medical practice.
Goodman and her late husband, Ernie, who was a St. Paul native and an obstetrician, opened their home to provide shelter, medical care and counseling to unwed mothers who had been spurned by their community. A philanthropist, she volunteered during her retirement years as a counselor for free walk-in clinics and to help residents at the St. Paul Sholom Home. And whenever asked, she proudly shared her memories about the founding of Israel in 1948.
Goodman, 93, died Oct. 30 of post-COVID pneumonia.
"My mother was a force of nature. She was the epitome of the strong woman," said Dr. Sheila Goodman Rosenthal, one of her daughters, during a service at Temple of Aaron Synagogue in St. Paul.
"From her days fighting in the Israeli Army, in the war for independence, to her medical school and residency, at a time when both women and Jews were unwelcome, to serving as the matriarch of our family, she showed a steely resilience and class that were unmatched. She was certain of who she was and what she stood for, and made sure others knew it, too."
Goodman was born in 1929 near the city of Haifa in what is now Israel. Her parents and extended family had fled pogroms against Jewish people in Ukraine, which was controlled by Russia at the time.
As a teenager in what was then Palestine, Goodman trained in the underground defense forces and taught hand-to-hand combat before joining the army. After the war, when Goodman was just 19, her mother died of cancer — a devastating loss that altered the trajectory of her life.
She went to Italy the next year for medical school, where she met her husband of 63 years. The couple made the Twin Cities their home as Goodman continued her training at the University of Minnesota — one of just a few women in her class, recalled daughter Paula Goodman Maccabee.
Where others tried to play down their womanhood, Goodman wore high heels. She retained her view that a woman could be beautiful and feminine and also smart and strong, said Goodman Maccabee, who served four years on the St. Paul City Council in the 1990s.
Goodman took a holistic approach to psychiatry by providing therapy for the entire family, said Dr. Nadia Maccabee-Ryaboy, one of her granddaughters. In the process, she would forge deep and lasting relationships.
When Maccabee-Ryaboy decided to go to medical school, Goodman provided support as well as an example for how to embark on a career in medicine while also starting a family.
If her grandchildren enjoyed the playful spirit of Goodman's sayings — including "no guts, no glory" whenever she took a risk in a game of cards or chess — they absorbed the more serious messages, too.
"She would often say: The three things that the world is based on — that we need to dedicate our lives to — are learning, work and acts of loving kindness," Maccabee-Ryaboy said. "She lived by those words, too."
On her last day, Goodman knew she was dying as family surrounded her hospital bed. During the memorial service, Paula Goodman Maccabee described the moment of saying goodbye.
"Her last act of will was to focus all her remaining energy to tell each of us that she loved us and that her grandchildren, children, great-grandchildren — her family — are her lasting legacy," she said. "She was, is and always will be alive to me. Fierce. Loving. Independent. Flawed. And absolutely magnificent."
In addition to her daughters, Goodman is survived by a son, Dr. Aviel Goodman, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Services have been held.