Many people don’t know that gay rights were Anne Frank’s passion.
Jewish Journal: Garden State Equality helped pass hundreds of gay-rights laws in New Jersey, including allowing same-sex marriage in 2013. Goldstein, however, sees himself as an advocate for social justice broadly — and says he’s “18 times more Jewish than gay.” LGBT rights, he says, aren’t even his top issue. That would be pro-Israel advocacy.
“It reminds me of actors who are associated with one part for the rest of their lives,” he said. “Jerry Seinfeld will be associated with his character on ‘Seinfeld.’ There’s absolutely nothing he can do about it. I never wanted to spend my life as a gay civil rights leader.”
Now Goldstein has the chance to play a new part. Starting Tuesday, he’ll be the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, a relatively obscure Holocaust memorial organization based in downtown Manhattan. Goldstein wants to turn it into a national leader in fighting hate and discrimination of all kinds.
Founded in 1959 by Otto Frank, Anne’s father, the center was originally the American counterpart to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The house shows visitors where the family hid during the Holocaust, along with running educational programs about the Holocaust and the dangers of anti-Semitism and racism. It has run programs in more than 50 countries, from Japan to South Africa.
Goldstein plans to expand that mission by establishing five institutes, led by prominent activists and academics, that will focus on civil rights, human rights, women’s rights, religious discrimination and journalism. He plans to release policy reports on those topics.
He also aims to open offices in Los Angeles, South Florida and a dozen other cities with large Jewish communities, and hold annual conferences for youth and women’s rights activists. He wants to support young filmmakers documenting social justice struggles.
His philosophy, in three words: “Bigger is better.”
“It’s not about are you going to do this over that,” he said. “For those who say you can’t do it all at once: first of all, watch. Welcome to Steven-land.”
Goldstein’s allies say he’s got a flare for the big. When he and Loretta Weinberg, a New Jersey state senator whom he says is “like a mother to me,” got a same-sex civil unions bill passed in 2006, he offered to host a small gathering at her Teaneck office. When Weinberg arrived, she saw teams from every major TV network.