You might have seen his name in the Jewish Link or even on Amazon’s website. Meish Goldish typically is the go-to guy for teachers who invite the Brooklyn writer to their classrooms to teach, talk and sometimes sing to the children.
And why wouldn’t any teacher clamor to bring him in?
Goldish has written over 400 books ranging from 6-18 page workbooks for children to manuals for teachers to books on a wide ranging assortment of topics. One of his biggest-selling books is called 101 Science Poems and Songs for Young Learners. But his “Making Multiplication Easy” was called a “Mega Seller” by its publisher, Scholastic. “Making Multiplication Easy” is in its second printing and is labeled by Amazon.com a best seller. The book was first published in 1991.
He has a wonderful sense of humor, curiosity and should be required listening by us all. He exudes a love of life. The author, who did call Teaneck his home for 27 years, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He attended public school through eighth grade and then attended high school yeshiva in Skokie, Ill.
“Tulsa was a clean, pleasant place, but sort of boring,” he said. “I was getting more interested in Broadway shows and music. I loved going to yeshiva, because I loved Chicago. I hung out there at movie theaters where I’d see old Humphrey Bogart movies.”
He would move on to Case Western Reserve College in Ohio and for a short time considered a job working for American Greeting Cards. But his goal was to write jokes for the Tonight Show’s Johnny Carson. He actually prepared about 100 jokes for Carson, and the then-king of late night used some of them.
But that was not where his career would take him. While living in New Jersey, he taught English at Teaneck High School and New Milford High School. His life would change—dramatically. A friend of Goldish’s would leave the classroom to become an editor at Prentice-Hall. The friend asked him if he’d spend his summer break writing a teacher’s guide to go with a book of five plays that Prentice-Hall was producing for high school students. That would become his first piece of professional writing, and the beginning of a prolific career writing for such publisher’s as Scholastic and Bearport Publishing.
The books he writes are for children, but are not trade books such as Harry Potter. Instead, his books are used in schools as parts of reading, science, grammar or math programs. Many of his books are published solely for school and public libraries.
Some of the books are on themes that haven’t necessarily been written about at any length. Indeed, Goldish has written a book about an animal called the fossa, which he said is only found in Madagascar and is part dog, part cat. The book is called “Fossa.” Then if you need to read about the hagfish and the stone fish, he’s written about them as well, not to mention the red imported fire ant.
What you need to know also is that Goldish didn’t own a computer until the early 1990s. He was largely researching these topics in libraries the old fashioned way instead of with the assistance of a search engine. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that he doesn’t have a driver’s license, a cellphone nor nary a credit card. Cable? Forget it.
He’s taken well known songs and created different lyrics as part of shul functions or Purim spoofs. He turned “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof into a song about synagogue customs. It’s called “Some Rise, Some Sit.” Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots are Made for Walking” turned into “These Shuls are Made for Talking.”
His wife, Chaya, a nutritionist, he said has listened to many of his jokes, songs and parodies. They are members of Young Israel of Flatbush.
When he’s not writing books, Goldish is an avid theater fan. He said he can see six or seven shows a week. He’s seen “Honeymoon in Vegas,” starring Tony Danza for 18 Broadway performances.
He’s also a huge Seinfeld fan, and even wrote a Purim spiel using Jerry and the gang.
If anything a book should be written. Not by him. But about him. That could be as popular as “Making Multiplication Easy.”
By Phil Jacobs