From doctor to volunteer, helping people is Dr. Laura Goldmeier’s true calling


Bill Motchan, Special to the Jewish Light

During her career as an obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Laura Goldmeier cared for many women. Now retired, Goldmeier has a new goal. She helps hundreds of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers obtain much-needed personal care goods, socks, T-shirts and cell phone batteries.

Since March 2019, Goldmeier has been president of Shaving Israel, the St. Louis-based charitable organization offering assistance to IDF soldiers with financial hardships and often no family support. She has also led the Congregation B’nai Amoona Mitzvah Circle. Her first project for the group was collecting kosher food to send to Jewish American soldiers who were stationed overseas.

Goldmeier’s work with the Mitzvah Circle was perhaps bashert. Her mother Gertrude previously was a member of the group, which was originally known as the Social Action Committee.

“The people I’ve really looked up to for advice and who had the biggest influence on me as a volunteer were my parents, and Phyllis Cantor, the former chair of the Mitzvah Circle, (and 2011 Unsung Hero),” Goldmeier said. “Another important influence was Rachel Miller, the founder of Shaving Israel.”

Initially, Goldmeier volunteered while she was still working. That wasn’t always easy with the unpredictable hours a physician must adapt to. A doctor also carries a fair amount of stress. That’s a lesson Goldmeier learned from her father Bernard Hulbert, who was also a physician.

“When I went into medicine, he told me there will always be one patient that you’re worried about. He said you make 100 decisions in the day, and 95 of them may be good. But it’s the five bad ones that you keep going over and over and worrying about. So it is a very difficult job and volunteering did relieve some of the stress.

“Also, at the time I really started volunteering more, I was headed towards retirement, and I thought it would give me something else I could do. And it’s a continuation in a way of what I was doing as a physician. It’s giving back. It’s trying to help people and I really enjoyed it from that standpoint.”

Goldmeier turned out to be a dedicated and innovative volunteer, said Jan Baron, who teaches an 8th grade class at B’nai Amoona and was a 2013 Unsung Hero.

“Laura and I have worked together on a number of projects that my class is also involved with,” Baron said. “And she has so many innovative ideas. Nothing is too hard for her. She gets people motivated and she has them working on such wonderful projects and she does it was great humility. She doesn’t care if her name is associated with it.

“She just wants to do these wonderful things and I thought that is so typical of what Judaism teaches. It’s part of our heritage and she’s got it. She just does things because she knows the right thing to do is helping other people. I think she epitomizes true tzedakah, true mitzvah. She’s a real mitzvah hero.”

Since she retired, Goldmeier spends some of her spare time going on walks around her neighborhood. Her real passion, though, is volunteering. Projects the B’nai Amoona Mitzvah Circle completed under Goldmeier’s leadership included a toy drive for children for Carver House, a durable medical goods drive, a canned food drive and a special holiday meal for the Annie Malone House. She has also served on the B’nai Amoona board, she’s a volunteer with the Friends of Israel, and has participated as a volunteer in the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Jewish and Muslim Day of Service. She has also volunteered with the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry and Washington University Hillel.

“I was also a volunteer in the Jewish hospital chaplain program, which we had at Missouri Baptist Medical Center,” Goldmeier said. “That was a very rewarding position. One morning a week, I would visit patients at Missouri Baptist and I would ask them if they wanted me to say the Mi Shebeirach prayer (for healing) for them and put them on the list for their rabbi to come visit.”

In addition to making a difference through volunteering, Goldmeier is a very effective leader, according to Irl Solomon, Shaving Israel board member.

“Laura is an outstanding president,” Solomon said. “She represents us very well at various venues. She has the ability to be a diplomat and combine differing opinions into very good compromise solutions. That a good ability for a president to have. She’s very generous with her time and she accepted the presidency at a time of organizational flux. She stepped into it beautifully and she steadied the ship, got us going in the direction we needed to go.”

Solomon said Goldmeier has the diplomatic skills to gracefully lead the Shaving Israel board.

“We have Jews from every background involved,” Goldmeier said, “and we have people of various political ideologies, all the way from very liberal to very conservative. It’s nice to see people working together on projects just because they want to help someone else and not towards some political agenda.”

Solomon also noted that Goldmeier’s leadership of Shaving Israel came at a time when external challenges made their work especially challenging.

“COVID has made the job of Shaving Israel much more difficult,” Solomon said. “The connections that we have in Israel and identifying these soldiers, it’s much harder. All the supplies we obtain are bought in Israel from Israeli suppliers. Some of them have either closed or they can’t get inventory, and prices have gone up. COVID is the reason. Nevertheless, we have had a better year than we had the year before COVID. And I think that’s quite a testament to her leadership.”

Laura Goldmeier

Age: 67

Family: Husband (David) is a psychiatrist, son (Jeremy) is director of communications at Congregation Shaare Emeth, daughter (Rachel) works for the Succeed Program at UMSL

Home: Creve Coeur

Fun Fact: Goldmeier cares for seven feral cats who enjoy the treats she leaves on her back porch