Jewish Identity Building, Bronfman Style

Park City, Utah is an unlikely place to find a thriving and growing Jewish community. And an even more unlikely place for an endowed Rabbinic chair. But in Park City you find key elements of community being addressed, both from a spiritual point and a learning point. For as you read yesterday in our interview with Adam Bronfman, he believes “Judaism is defined by ideas, community and a passion for building a better tomorrow.”

Because a strong tradition of learning exists in Judaism, and in addition to learners we are also seekers, several years ago, Adam endowed the Rabbinic chair at Temple Har Shalom. For without a permanent resident Rabbi in this somewhat remote Jewish community, it would be difficult to meet the various communal needs.

Growing up in a home lacking a significant Jewish presence, and one devoid of Jewish symbols, and then marrying out (his wife later converted), Adam was familiar with the issues raised from this lack of Jewish knowledge. In fact, he believes “one of our greatest struggles today is gaining acceptance among ourselves”. Having knowledge and putting it into practice is one step towards this acceptance.

Which brings us to inclusion, a “hot” button issue. Like his father, Adam feels our communal institutions need to recognize and then adapt to the “facts on the ground” of intermarriage – our organizations need to be both open and welcoming. We need to recognize intermarried families. For in Adams words, “Am Yisrael is being threatened by this lack of inclusiveness”. We need to “reassess that which is important for Jewish institutions and explore together”.

So, there you have it – and this is something of a rarity – two generations working in the same philanthropy. In large measure on the same page, and independently supporting the same organizations. With two significant Jewish foundations in pay-down mode (in place pre the 2008 economic crises) this is one Foundation likely to continue under a new generation of leadership.

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem.