(photo credit: Dina Guna / Lotan)
Andrea Bronfman, the wife of well-known philanthropist Charles Bronfman and a committed philanthropist in her own right, died in New York on Monday. Bronfman reportedly succumbed to injuries she sustained when a car skidded off the road and struck her while she was enjoying a morning walk. She was 60.
Her funeral is planned for Friday in Israel.
Jewish Agency chairman Ze'ev Bielski, who knew Bronfman through her many Israel-centered charitable efforts, called her passing "a tremendous loss for the Jewish people," adding that she was "a proud Jew who cared about her brothers and her sisters."
The Birthright project, of which the Jewish Agency is a partner, was co-founded by Charles Bronfman; "Andy," as Andrea was known to many, helped develop it. She was also dedicated to helping young Israeli artists gain exposure and develop their talents outside the country, and was highly involved in the wide array of charities that her husband established, including the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, Keren Karev and the CRB Foundation.
The United Jewish Communities (UJC), its Board of Trustees and staff issued a statement mourning the sudden and untimely passing of Bronfman.
It said that with The Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, the family has made an indelible mark on Jewish life from Canada to Israel, evoking the deepest values of leadership, charity (tzedakah) and tikkun olam, repairing the world.
A devoted wife and mother, "Andy" Bronfman also felt an abiding love of Israel, the UJC said, helping build the Jewish state with programs such as AIDA, which supports Israeli artists. She also promoted Arab-Israeli dialogue, Israeli environmental issues, and was a board member of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which aids Jews worldwide, it noted.
Bronfman's other initiatives included 21/64, which supports young philanthropists; Reboot, which nurtures young Jewish leaders outside the mainstream; and the Gift of New York, which provides free access to New York's cultural offerings to families of victims of Sept. 11.
Andrea was also a dedicated supporter of the UJC/Jewish federation system. She was a Lion of Judah and a member of the Prime Minister's Council.
The family's many charitable endeavors reflected Andrea's ceaseless spirit, determination and generosity and served as a timeless model for the Jewish people everywhere, the UJC said. She leaves a bold legacy for her family and for the Jewish people.
"We are all stunned and deeply saddened by Andrea's passing," said UJC Chair Robert Goldberg. "The Jewish world has lost one of its best friends, a woman who exemplified Judaism's highest values and whose vision led our community into the future for generations to come."
"She was really the salt of the earth, and down to earth," said Hirsh Goodman, who directs the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Program on Information Strategy at Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center.
He was also the founding editor of The Jerusalem Report, of which Charles Bronfman was one of the founding owners. "She just cared about people in a very deep way," Goodman said.
Goodman is also a neighbor of the Bronfmans, who stay in the home that Andrea's parents built in Talbiyeh many years ago. The Bronfmans have spent several months there each year.
Andrea was born in England but spent much of her life in Israel, as her parents had been connected from the early days of the state with leading Israeli politicians. They were active in Jewish and Zionist causes in England as well.
"Andrea Bronfman was a pillar of her family and the entire Jewish community. She was an activist as well as a philanthropist," the World Jewish Congress Policy said in a press release. Charles Bronfman's brother Edgar is the president of the WJC.
The Bronfman brothers are heirs to the Seagrams alcoholic beverages giant, and have been extremely active in Jewish and general philanthropic endeavors in Israel and in North America for decades.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, 257 West 88th St., New York.