Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jew­ish Renaissance

Edgar M. Bronf­man with Beth Zasloff
  • Review
By – January 26, 2012

A dra­mat­ic change in Jew­ish life in North Amer­i­ca began in the 1980’s when phil­an­thropists entered the are­na of Jew­ish edu­ca­tion as part­ners with estab­lished orga­ni­za­tions and as inno­va­tors on their own. Recog­ni­tion of out­stand­ing Jew­ish edu­ca­tors, active encour­age­ment of young edu­ca­tors enter­ing the field, and sup­port for new ini­tia­tives designed to alter the land­scape cre­at­ed greater inter­est in a field that had long been fraught with challenges. 

Edgar Bronf­man has long been a key con­trib­u­tor in recast­ing Jew­ish life. His involve­ment has been well doc­u­ment­ed in a num­ber of key areas includ­ing Hil­lel, Birthright Israel, camp­ing, and lead­er­ship devel­op­ment. With the pub­li­ca­tion of this small vol­ume, we hear his per­spec­tive not only on his per­son­al involve­ment but also on the work of all who have con­tributed sig­nif­i­cant­ly to the future of Jew­ish life in Amer­i­ca and through­out the Jew­ish world.

His pow­er­ful theme of hope in a real future for Jew­ish life per­me­ates his sto­ries. Each ini­tia­tive has cre­at­ed a buzz that car­ries far beyond the indi­vid­u­als who are touched direct­ly. As a com­mu­ni­ty we need to cap­ture his hope by bring­ing our per­son­al cre­ativ­i­ty to the strug­gle. This small con­tri­bu­tion to the ever-grow­ing lit­er­a­ture in jour­nals and books is encour­ag­ing. Com­ing from Bronf­man this book will hope­ful­ly encour­age oth­ers with the resources to engage in build­ing a strong future for the Jew­ish people. 

One chal­lenge we face is that many of our lead­ing phil­an­thropists are not fol­low­ing in Bronfman’s foot­steps. To suc­ceed, we will need to engage many more in these ven­tures. Their cre­ativ­i­ty and com­mit­ment is required over decades if we real­ly believe in our­selves and our Jew­ish community.

Paul A. Flexn­er, Ed.D., is an Instruc­tor in Edu­ca­tion­al Psy­chol­o­gy at Geor­gia State Uni­ver­si­ty, a vet­er­an of 35 years as a Jew­ish edu­ca­tor and a mem­ber of the Board of Direc­tors of the Jew­ish Book Council.

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