Humans of Mount Zion

(Interviews with Phil Goldman as Inspired by Brandon Stanton's Humans of New York)

We will use this site each week to introduce Mount Zion members to one another, one member at a time. We each have a story to tell, and those stories can build connections between us.

Send us a message with your own interview requests, feedback, or questions!
This Week:


Along with about 25 others, Toba and I were part of the Mount Zion group that travelled to Cuba this past spring. We had a chance to talk on one of our long bus trips along the road to Varadero. Although it has been several months since, we were able to rekindle that conversation just before we led daily services together this past Halloween, and just prior to the 6th game of the World Series.

I grew up on the north side of Chicago, and I never expected to come to Minnesota. But then Mort was transferred here. So we moved up in 1973, from the suburb of Niles Illinois, with three children.

Is that where you both grew up?

I grew up on the north side in a fancy schmancy area called Roger’s Park, close to Lake Michigan. My parents were Joseph and Freda Gang, and they went to the Conservative synagogue B’nai Zion. Mort also grew up in Chicago, but in a very different part of the city, he was much further west, Roosevelt Road. Very different neighborhoods, different lifestyles. We were the more privileged – cashmere sweaters – we were like the Edina of Chicago. My father had a shoe store in Chicago, and he did well. Well enough to send both me and my brothers to college. But they worked hard, and they didn’t go on many vacations.

His mother was a housewife, but his dad seems to have been a policeman for the Detroit police department, and then he ended up working for the FBI, working undercover in unions. They had both died before I met Mort, and pretty close to each other, when he was about 19.

Did you have a favorite teacher or subject in school?

In high school, my favorite teacher was Mr. Croghan, he was my Spanish teacher. I loved it, and it was my favorite subject, and I can still remember my Spanish from four years of high school. It’s amazing! I went with the Levey’s on a South American cruise and sometimes I would stay in the van and the driver didn’t speak English, but we would carry on a conversation, and I was so proud of myself! After just four years of Spanish in high school, and a year in college.

Do you still have friends from your high school days? Continue reading »


Previously Featured Humans



September 29, 2016

After a longer than expected hiatus, our Humans series will be rekindled with a discussion with Steve Greenberg, Mount Zion’s new Congregational Engagement Director. Not so much to learn about the position or his plans; there will be plenty of … Continue reading »



March 3, 2016

David grew up in the LA area, moved to Minnesota for graduate school, and has lived here ever since. It was here that he met and married his first Marianne, and eventually also his second, and current Mary Ann, while … Continue reading »



February 25, 2016

Joseph Thomas Marver (alias Tom, alias Yosef ben Hillel) was born and raised in Saint Paul, in his family’s home along Mississippi River Boulevard. Tom still seems to live life to the fullest, starting in the heydays of the 60s … Continue reading »



February 18, 2016

Abbey and her wife Deirdre live in St. Paul with their sons Nadav and Matan. Deirdre serves as a Program Manager with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, while Abbey is a psychologist at The Center for the Victims of Torture. I … Continue reading »



February 11, 2016

Mia lives with her husband Seth Levin in Saint Anthony Park, where they are raising sons Aaron, who is currently at Grinnell, and Ethan, who will be starting at Macalester next fall, where he hopes to continue playing football as … Continue reading »



February 4, 2016

Born and raised in Needham, MA, Sue is the oldest of three children born to Barbara and Peter. Her undergrad years at Yale were followed in short order by medical school at Wash U., including studies in South Africa, and … Continue reading »



January 28, 2016

Peter and his wife Bonnie Rubinstein live in River Falls, Wisconsin, on property along the Kinickinnic River. It is there that he has long been active in a “mish mash” of endeavors, including most notably his avocation for theater. Bonnie … Continue reading »



January 21, 2016

As we approach the end of our first year of these Humans postings, I’ve opted to take the week off (go ahead, fire me!) – and will accept the kind offer of past Human Robert Garfinkle to profile yours truly … Continue reading »



January 14, 2016

Adam and Thyra moved to Minnesota from Philadelphia with their girls Talia and Maren in 2005, and have been members of Mount Zion ever since. He works as a professional, free-lance composer, and she works as a health psychologist at … Continue reading »

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