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.