Joel M. Woldman, 69, of Alexandria, died from leukemia at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Sunday, May 6, 2007 after a long battle against the disease which struck him first in 1998. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he was a graduate of Brandeis University and received his MA and Ph.D. in South Asian Studies and International Relations from the University of Michigan. He entered the U.S. Foreign Service in 1966 and served with distinction in Pakistan and Washington, D.C. His career then took him to the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. Department of State to his research work at the Library of Congress, where he specialized in U.S. Foreign Policy issues from 1971 to 1989, and finally to the great love of his life, American Antiques, in which he became a recognized expert with his twin brother Murray. Their beautiful 1854 home in Alexandria was a source of great joy as they restored it to its original beauty over a period of 26 years.
He was the son of the late Philip and Lillian Woldman of Cleveland, Ohio. He is survived by his identical twin brother, Murray, of Alexandria, his sister Karen Sorkin of Marblehead, Mass., his brother-in-law Kenneth Sorkin and his niece Julie Sorkin of Alexandria, and his nephew Andrew Sorkin of Boston, Mass. His brother Murray gave him a bone marrow transplant in 1998 when he was first stricken with leukemia which enabled them to enjoy six more wonderful years together until the disease relapsed in 2004.
He will be missed by many professional and personal friends from his careers as diplomat, scholar, research specialist at the Library of Congress and in the antiques world where he and Murray worked as Woldman and Woldman Antiques since 1986. They traveled widely abroad together and enjoyed a life filled with a love of South Asian and European culture and cuisine, classical music, art, and more recently a renewed interest in and love for their Jewish heritage that included membership in congregation Bet Mishpachah, the GLBT congregation of Washington, D.C., where they were involved members and shared many wonderful friendships. They also studied Yiddish at George Washington University.
Joel’s life was beautiful and full of love for his family and closest friends. That love was most deeply returned by all who knew his goodness, his gentle and kind soul, his principles, his many abiding interests and humanitarian concerns.