Sherwin Pomerantz

In Memory of Israel’s Solar Pioneer, Arnold Goldman

Arnold Goldman, who brought credit to Israel’s high tech industry with the establishment of Luz Industries Israel Ltd. in 1983, passed away earlier this week after a long illness.

Arnold had more than three decades of experience in the energy industry.  He founded Jerusalem-based Luz International, Ltd. and served as its CEO. Arnold and the Luz International team first proved that solar power can be reliably produced in large quantities and cost effectively by building the world’s nine largest solar thermal plants in California’s Mojave Desert between 1984 and 1990. At the time, those nine plants generated 354MW of power, equivalent to 90 percent of the world’s solar electricity, and the plants are still operating profitably today.

In 2011 Arnold was presented the annual Lifelong Contribution to Sustainable Energy Award from the Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative.  The award was presented to Arnold by Dr. Uzi Landau, then Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructures.

Arnold was also the recipient of three other international awards for his contribution to solar energy development, including the International Solar Energy Society Achievement Through Action Award “To the Solar Energy Pioneer” (in memorial of Christopher A. Weeks), the European Solar Energy Association’s Euro Solar Augustin-Mouchot-Prize, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from SolarPACES (Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems). He held numerous patents for his inventions and innovations.

But this is only a small part of the story as it does not provide a full picture of the man, his genius and his soul.  When, in early 1984 he committed to building a small solar power generating facility in California by the end of the year, Luz, the company based in, at the time, Jerusalem’s small Har Hotzvim Tech Park, Luz had no solar technology.  As a matter of fact the telex code for the company was IHPIS which, roughly, stood for Israel Home Products.  But he believed it could be done and, in fact, when the year ended SEGS-I as it was known was producing electricity in a field outside of Daggett in the high desert of California.  Arnold’s genius allowed him to assemble a team, create the needed infrastructure, locate the required suppliers of parts in various parts of the world and bring it to reality, all in 11 months.

I joined the Luz team in May, 1984 in the early stages of my Aliyah when I was still living in the immigrant absorption center in Gilo in south Jerusalem.  I was part of the company’s senior staff until it went into receivership in 1990 and never stopped being amazed at the creativity, the vision and the faith in his people that Arnold exhibited every day of his life.

A personal example: During one of those years I was working at the Los Angeles office of Luz and my wife at that time was a cancer patient at the tail end of her eight year battle with the disease.  She died there late one afternoon.  When I returned to my apartment four hours later I received a call from the company’s attorney in Israel expressing the sympathy of the organization and relating that Arnold had told him to advise me that the resources of the company were at my disposal.  No questions asked….whatever I needed they would handle and they did.  That, of course, was in addition to the fact that for personal reasons I needed to be in the US for a year and Arnold created a job for me there as well.  That was the kind of person he was.

Clearly, the additional solar plants that Luz built were testimony both to his genius and his ability to assemble a loyal team of professionals whom he inspired to achieve the challenging objectives that Arnold put in front of them.  Of course, simultaneously he was always coming up with new ideas and new ways to impact humanity.  A serious student of Torah and its hidden messages, he had a unique capability to creatively meld the message of Torah with modern technology that would enable mankind to realize God’s plan for the world.  Truth be told, had he lived more of his dreams would have come to reality.

He was, of course, blessed with a loving and supportive wife, Karen, and children as well who imbibed his spirit and creativity. No doubt their lives will be the living testimony to his dreams.

I will miss him and the light of the world will now be a bit dimmer without his soulful presence. Y’hi Zichron Baruch….may his memory be for a blessing.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.