Even before finishing elementary school, Elizabeth “Ellie” Goldenberg demonstrated that she had a special charisma and an undeniable stage presence.
“I could tell right away that she was extremely talented. I was totally blown away,” recalled Diane Smith, artistic director and theatre teacher at Pikesville’s Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, who met Goldenberg when she was in the fifth grade and worked closely with her throughout her middle and high school years.
A 2012 Beth Tfiloh alumna, Goldenberg died on May 13, a day after her graduation from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts. She was 22.
Goldenberg was on an airboat tour of the Florida Everglades with her family when she was ejected during a sudden stop. She died from her injuries at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Southwest Miami-Dade.
Her sister, Dana, 20, sustained a minor injury, while their parents were unharmed in the accident.
Smith said Goldenberg’s death was profoundly felt by the Beth Tfiloh community. “Her death not only rocked the arts department, it rocked the whole school,” Smith said.
A Haifa native whose family now lives in Hummelstown, Pa., Goldenberg found her calling as a thespian in a Beth Tfiloh fifth grade production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” She showed potential quickly, according to Smith, and two years later played the lead of Gabriella Montez in the Beth Tfiloh production of “High School Musical”
In high school, Goldenberg was a winner of the Critics and Awards Program, or Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theater and journalism students .She won for her portrayal of Muzzy von Hossmere in Beth Tfiloh’s production of “Throughly Modern Millie.” Goldenberg also was later a Cappies judge.
After her high school graduation, Goldenberg participated in a gap year program in Israel before attending the University of Miami. Active in the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre Company at the university, she was also a member of the campus Chabad and Emet Israel groups.
Goldenberg graduated summa cum laude on May 12, with plans to move to New York City and pursue a theatrical career.
“She always reached out to me for advice on headshots, singing, acting, and life in NYC,” her friend and fellow Beth Tfiloh alumna Gabi Levin wrote about Goldenberg on Facebook.
The Ring Theatre held a memorial service for Goldenberg on May 16.
Goldenberg’s funeral was held at Kesher Israel Synagogue in Harrisburg, Pa., and she was buried at Chisuk Emuna Cemetery in Harrisburg.
Goldenberg is survived by her parents, David and Renee, and her siblings, Dana and Michael.
For contributions in her memory, Goldenberg’s family requested tree plantings in her honor to the Jewish National Fund, or a donation to the Ellie Goldenberg Memorial Scholarship Fund: Department of Theatre Arts, University of Miami, P.O. Box 248273 Coral Gables, Fla. 33124.
William Linker is Jmore’s editorial staff intern.
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