Goldie and Mickey Berger

Sisters Goldie and Mickey Berger entered the Home in 1916 at ages 13 and 9 and lived there until 1922 and 1925, respectively. Born in Russia, Goldie and Mickey were the youngest of four children. Their father, Isaac, traveled to America in search of a better life for his family. After settling in Houston where he opened a grocery, Isaac remarried (Mary) and saved enough money to have a family friend, Mr. Brodsky, bring the children from Russia. This photo, taken shortly after the children’s arrival, shows (at rear from left) Isaac, Mary, and Mr. Brodsky, with Isaac’s three younger children, Meyer, Goldie (in pigtails), and Mickey, while older sister Sarah and their mother chose to remain in Russia. A few years later, Isaac died. With step-mother Mary unable or unwilling to care for the children, Houston’s B’nai B’rith lodge successfully petitioned the Home to admit the two girls. Meyer, too old for admission, set off on his own and lost touch with his family.  

Berger Family, 1916

According to Betty Knobler Freedman and Linda Freedman Block, Goldie’s daughter and granddaughter, who generously supplied all photos on this page, Goldie and Mickey prospered in the Home, where they made close friends (including Fanny and Sadie Mashinka) and observed Jewish traditions and holidays. During summer breaks from Isidore Newman School (from which Goldie graduated in 1922), the girls enjoyed camp in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Moreover, Goldie often spoke about the “marvelous training” she received in the Home, especially from Bonita Hiller Godchaux, an Honorary Matron who was paired with the girls as their volunteer “Big Sister.”  Shown standing (in hat) outside the Home with Mickey and Goldie (plaid dress), Godchaux — whose father Jonas Hiller and husband Charles Godchaux served on the Home’s board — often picked up the girls in her chauffeur driven car and took them to theater, restaurants, and her home where a butler awaited.

Goldie was discharged to Mr. S.J. Westheimer of Houston, Texas. When Goldie married Isadore Knobler, Westheimer hosted her wedding and walked her down the aisle. Mickey, who was discharged into her married sister’s care, later married Aaron Brodsky, the son of the man who brought the girls to America.


Berger summer camp

Goldie, second from left, in an undated photo inscribed “Camp Days.”

Goldie, at far right, in a 1920 photo taken in the Home’s courtyard with three other girls, labeled with the unexplained acronym “F.O.U.R.”

Berger Purim 1921

Goldie, second from left, in the Home on Purim 1921.