January 26, 2006
Andrea Bronfman, Charity Giant, Killed
Andrea Bronfman, a giant in the world of Jewish philanthropy, was killed Monday when a car struck her while she was walking her dog in Manhattan. She was 60 years old.
"She was a Zionist -- and her parents were lovers of Israel and strong Zionists," said Marlene Post, who worked with Bronfman at Birthright Israel, the 6-year-old program that to date has brought nearly 100,000 young Jews to Israel for free 10-day trips.
Born in London to a Scottish father and a mother from New York, Bronfman and her husband -- the billionaire businessman and philanthropist Charles Bronfman -- maintained residences in New York, Florida and Jerusalem. They spent about three months of each year in Israel and in 2002 were awarded honorary Jerusalem citizenship.
Twenty years ago, the Bronfmans founded the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies Inc. The foundation has supported numerous programs and initiatives aimed at strengthening Jewish life, in addition to programs not related to the Jewish community.
Bronfman worked to establish a nexus between her concern for Israel and her artistic pursuits. In 2003, in response to the drop in tourism dollars at the height of the intifada, Bronfman founded AIDA: the Association of Israel's Decorative Arts, which has helped expose Israeli artists to North American galleries and collectors and educate North Americans about decorative arts in Israel.
For her 60th birthday earlier this year, Charles announced creation of the "Andy Prize," a $10,000 annual award for an Israeli artist.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Bronfman turned her philanthropic eye to the attack's victims. She became founder and deputy chairman of The Gift of New York, a nonprofit initiative to provide free tickets to a variety of cultural offerings and sports events for the bereaved families of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Other initiatives included 21/64, which supports young philanthropists; and Reboot, which nurtures young Jewish leaders outside the mainstream of organized Jewish life.
Friends and colleagues described Bronfman as attractive, dignified, vibrant -- and highly intelligent. Those who knew her also spoke of Bronfman's deep devotion to her husband, five children and six grandchildren.
A memorial ceremony was held Wednesday at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Manhattan. Burial is scheduled for Friday in Jerusalem.