Obituary: Dr. Zipora (Goldfinger) Wagner

Obituary: Dr. Zipora (Goldfinger) Wagner

Dr. Zipora (Goldfinger) Wagner, beloved mother, grandmother, teacher, mentor and friend, died Jan. 8, after a long battle with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

Dr. Zipora (Goldfinger) Wagner, beloved mother, grandmother, teacher, mentor and friend, died Jan. 8, after a long battle with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

Tsipi Goldfinger was born March 21, 1941, in a Jewish internment camp in Rhodes. Her parents, Pesiah and Meir, left war-torn Europe with their sons, Yehoshua and Shlomo, bound for Palestine on the Pentcho (, a Danube steamboat packed with some 500 refugees. The arduous journey ended five months later, when the Pentcho broke down near Rhodes. Passengers were interned in a stadium for about a year and aided by the Jewish community of Rhodes. Eventually, Pentcho survivors were moved to an internment camp in Italy. When British soldiers liberated it, Yehoshua joined the army, and the Goldfingers were finally allowed to enter Palestine.

A true Sabra, Tsipi grew up with the struggling country. She met the love of her life, Mordechai “Motkeh” Wagner at 19. They married and made a home on Moshav Sde Warburg, where Motkeh had grown up, and raised their sons Roy and Erez. (Erez now lives there.) When she wasn’t teaching English in Kfar Saba, Tsipi helped Motkeh raise flowers and oranges, build a business at Café Oslo, traveled and “adopted” many students and friends.

After 39 years of teaching middle and high school English in Israel, Tsipi reinvented herself as a university professor in America. She taught Hebrew and Israeli Culture at Emory, Georgia State and College of Charleston, as well as continuing her own education: She earned her PhD in American Literature & Criminology from GSU at 69; she had almost completed a PhD in Criminology at Bar Ilan University decades earlier. Tsipi was a master teacher with an exceptional ability to engage and motivate students, many of whom enthuse about her remarkable impact both in and out of the classroom.

Tsipi’s energetic approach to life and fitness continued into her retirement: she exercised daily, ate well and traveled as much as possible. She spoiled her grandchildren, kept up with friends in both Atlanta and Israel and baked her famous babka — until she couldn’t. PSP slowly robbed Tsipi of her independence, spunk and smile.

Tsipi will be remembered as the family matriarch, who doted on her children and grandchildren, instilling in them confidence and a sense of belonging and a cheerful presence in the academic community. Tsipi was predeceased by Motkeh; her parents, Pesiah and Meir Goldfinger; brother, Yehoshua Goldfinger; brother and sister-in-law, Shlomo and Osnat Goldfinger. She is survived by her sons, Roy Wagner (Jody Steinberg) and Erez Wagner, granddaughters, Danielle and Roni Wagner (Atlanta) and grandsons, Tal and Guy Wagner (Israel), sister-in-law Reva Goldfinger, numerous nieces and nephews, granddog, Matzoh Ball and generations of students. Tsipi’s family will be forever grateful to Tsipi’s devoted caregiver and adopted family member, Hortensia Morales.

Tsipi was laid to rest Jan. 13, next to Motkeh, on Moshav Sde Warburg, followed by shiva at Erez’s home. An Atlanta shiva will be held at a future date. Donations in Tsipi’s memory may be made to or Congregation Bet Haverim.

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