Program director Susan Goldfarb spoke to the club about the center's first season as a new entity.
Class was in session at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key. The gathered members heard from Education Center at Temple Beth Israel program director Susan Goldfarb over breakfast.
Goldfarb was previously executive director of the Longboat Key Education Center, which dissolved in the past year due to financial hardship during the pandemic. The concept of lifelong learning was reborn again when Temple Beth Israel executive director Isaac Azerad approached Goldfarb about becoming part of the temple. Now, Goldfarb and her staff are employees of the temple, but still doing what they’ve always done — providing education.
“We went from seeing 500 people a day to five people a week, in season, so COVID killed it and Zoom didn't save it,” Goldfarb said. “We're starting a new idea that the temple had, because they needed some excitement added to their temple, so they thought that would be the answer, and it has been.”
Goldfarb has been involved with education on Longboat Key for 35 years, when she met Longboat Key Education Center founder, Laura Taubes, and began working on PR for the school. Before that, she had been a flight attendant, a Canadian welcome house director for immigrants, costumer for the National Ballet of Canada and Canadian Opera Company, server at Cafe L’Europe, restaurant reviewer, French bakery wholesaler and real estate advertising and PR director. When Taubes wanted to retire, she sought out Goldfarb to take it over. Taubes knew Goldfarb wasn’t doing what she loved, and despite Goldfarb’s anxieties, she took it over with Taubes’ full confidence.
“She had 35 programs, and I brought it up over the years to 175, and that's how I paid my staff and myself,” Goldfarb said. “Education turned out to be my passion. My father always said, ‘Susan, in life, you have to have someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to.’ That was a great philosophy, and I added, ‘Something to do that you have the passion for.’ That's what's carried me now for 35 years.”
Goldfarb has been able to retain nearly all of her teachers and programs since starting the Education Center at Temple Beth Israel, and they’re in the thick of the fall semester right now. All Temple Beth Israel members get free membership and many members from the Longboat Key Education Center picked their membership up again.
“We want to stay vital with our friends, our family, our community,” Goldfarb said. “That's how we do it, is by continuing to learn new things, and that's what this school is all about. If you want to learn something new, you come to the Education Center. It's nondenominational and nonsectarian. One of the things that we love about the school is the camaraderie that leads to an enriching life of self fulfillment.”
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