Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Josh Goldstein (BA ’15) always admired his paternal grandfather, Bernie Goldstein (BBA ’49), and loved hearing about his college days at the UW-Madison. Josh’s father Stewart also attended the UW (BA ’82), so the pull of Madison was strong as Josh entered his senior year of high school and began to apply to colleges. That spring the University of Missouri offered him a full ride, but the UW-Madison remained his first choice. When Josh was accepted, he excitedly called his grandfather, and both started crying. The out-of-state tuition presented a challenge, but Bernie vowed to “make this happen.” True to his promise, he helped Josh’s parents pay the tuition each semester, enabling Josh to realize his dream of becoming a Badger.
Now Josh and Bernie have forged another special connection through their commitment to the Center for Jewish Studies. In 2018, after Bernie made a generous gift to create our new Goldstein Family Student Lounge and Library, Josh attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and felt inspired by his grandfather’s support of the Center. Soon afterwards, Josh agreed to join our Board of Visitors, where he offers a fresh and unique perspective as the youngest member. In supporting CJS, grandfather and grandson have each found a valuable way to contribute to the university that shaped them both.
Bernie grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, where he liked to do the bookkeeping in his parents’ store. At the UW-Madison, he focused on Business Administration and refined the skills he would ultimately need to become a CPA. An only child, Bernie was especially grateful for the friendships he formed through his fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau. “Not only did I get a fantastic education,” he reflects. “I had a fantastic time.” Since then, he has passed on to his children and grandchildren the same lesson that his parents passed on to him: “There’s nothing you can’t do if you want it badly enough and you’re willing to put in the sacrifice to do it.”
Like his grandfather, Josh threw himself into his college experience and soon made friends with students from many different backgrounds. He recalls his surprise upon learning that his freshman roommate, a native Wisconsinite, had never met a Jewish person before. “He was a great guy, and we learned things from each other,” Josh reflects. Through one of his closest fraternity brothers at Delta Upsilon, he soon learned about Jewish Experience of Madison. In one particularly memorable session, he was able to spend time listening to the experiences of some Holocaust survivors. JEM also arranged for him to spend a weekend living with a Hasidic family in Milwaukee, where he had the opportunity to take part in a fully traditional shabbat for the first time.
During his years at the UW, Josh came to value his relationship with Bernie more than ever, and they would get together regularly, bonding over beers at the Nitty Gritty and their shared passion for Badger athletics. When Bernie would talk about his own college experiences, Josh says, he realized that his grandfather was “like me, in more aged skin.” Occasionally Josh would attend services with Bernie, who proudly introduced him to all his friends. At these times, Josh was glad to “step outside of the college bubble” for a while and reflect on how lucky he was.
Josh continues to count his blessings. Currently, he and his wife Brynne are living in Denver, Colorado, where Josh works for the Zillow Group. This September they are expecting their first child, a baby boy, who may just turn out to be a fourth-generation Badger, following the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.