Obituary: Jackie Gothard

Obituary: Jackie Gothard

She was the driving force in rebuilding Congregation Beth Israel in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

The family of Jackie Gothard is heartbroken to announce her passing Monday, May 21, 2018.

She was beloved by her husband of 60 years, Judge Sol Gothard, and her five children: Yaacov; Eddie and his wife, Blayne; Andy and his wife, Julie; Shayna and her husband, Eric; and Sander and his wife, Julie. Jackie was devoted to her 11 grandchildren — Aimee, Taylor, Ben, Daniel, Tara, Sidnie, Gabriel, Mikayla, Maya, Lindsay and Jeremy — and to great-grandson August.

Jackie’s parents were Ralph and Etta Pressner. Her younger sister and lifelong best friend was Frieda Posnock, wife of Leonard Posnock. She was blessed to be a member of the Kansas and Pressner families, with countless cousins, nieces and nephews.

Proud natives of New Orleans, Jackie and Frieda grew up above the family business, Pressner’s Kosher Delicatessen, where they and their friends were frequent visitors to the famous pickle barrel. Jackie attended Alcee Fortier High School, where she played first-chair violin in the school orchestra, as well as second chair in the All-State Orchestra. While in high school she was on a synchronized swimming team coached by Roy Brenner. She excelled in various sports, including volleyball, softball and basketball.

Jackie Gothard

After graduating at the age of 16, Jackie attended Sophie Newcomb College, graduating second in her class with a bachelor’s in psychology. She drove her Chevy convertible with her father, Ralph, to Cleveland to attend the Western Reserve University Graduate School of Social Work, where she earned a master’s in social work. There she met a fellow M.S.W. student, the love of her life, Sol. Jackie won Sol’s heart on the basketball court by making a perfect half-court shot. Upon graduation, Jackie and Sol came to New Orleans, where they were married at Congregation Beth Israel on Carondelet Street.

Jackie worked as a social worker for New Orleans Child Protective Services for several years. Later she was an active travel agent, specializing in trips to Israel. She was devoted to many volunteer organizations, including Hadassah, Jewish Family Service (where she was active in the teen suicide prevention program), the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the New Orleans post of the Jewish War Veterans. Her passion was Congregation Beth Israel, where she served as the first female president. Her term coincided with the 100th anniversary of the synagogue and then its destruction in Hurricane Katrina. She was the moving force, the inspiration, for the rebuilding of Beth Israel in its new home alongside Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie. Jackie was honored as a People’s Health Champion at a New Orleans Saints game in 2007 for her work and success in rebuilding Beth Israel.

Jackie and Sol loved to travel, hiking in U.S. national parks, salmon fishing in Alaska, walking the Great Wall of China, visiting the Inns of Court in London, and especially hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville and listening to “their” bluegrass music. She visited Israel over two dozen times. Her love of travel, Israel and work with the youth community culminated in her leading six-week summer youth trips to Israel from 1980 to 1986. Jackie was the strength that Sol relied on in his political campaigns for Juvenile Court judge in 1972, Appellate Court judge in 1986 and Appellate Court re-election in 1999.

Jackie and Sol often said, however, that their proudest accomplishments — far exceeding judgeships and professional achievements — were their children and grandchildren. Among them, they have earned 10 college and graduate degrees and have established businesses and professional practices. More important, the children and grandchildren brought them joy through their love of Judaism and devotion to a variety of cultural, environmental, civic and charitable causes. Jackie, our bubbe, will be sorely missed but will live forever in the hearts of her devoted Sol — her “honey” — her entire family and those on whom she made a positive impact through her too-short years.

In lieu of flowers, consider a contribution to Congregation Beth Israel, 4004 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, LA 70002. The funeral was held Thursday, May 24, at Beth Israel, with burial at Beth Israel Cemetery. An online guestbook is at

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