(photo credit: Dina Guna / Lotan)
Close to a thousand mourners from many parts of Israel and abroad congregated inside a huge marquee erected in Jerusalem on Friday morning for the funeral service of multi-faceted philanthropist Andrea Bronfman, who was killed on Monday while walking her dog in Manhattan.
Born in London shortly after the end of the Second World War, Bronfman and her sister Marcia (Kappy) Flanders, were raised in an ardently Zionist home. Their parents, Hyam and Doris Morrison, also maintained a home in Israel in the capital's upscale Pinsker Street. It was in the park adjacent to this home that the funeral service for Bronfman was held. The park is named in memory of the Morrisons and is one of Bronfman's many gifts to the people of Jerusalem.
A passionate, dynamic, energetic and caring woman who was both soft as butter and tough as nails, Bronfman was eulogized by relatives and friends including acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, each of whom maintained personal friendships with Bronfman and her husband Charles, whose philanthropy is likewise spread far and wide over Israel, Canada and the US.
The common thread in all the eulogies was the character of a woman who, though she held three different passports, felt herself most at home in Jerusalem. Both Olmert and Peres stressed her "deep commitment" to Jerusalem and to Israel.
She was a woman who envisioned not only the final picture, but one who saw the whole picture including the smallest details, the speakers noted - a genuinely hands-on philanthropist.
She loved life and she was committed to making life better for the less fortunate, and was at "her peak" when so tragically killed, the speakers noted.
Peres, who had also known Andy's parents as well as those of Charles Bronfman, noted that both families due to their manifold business and philanthropic activities had been courted by the non-Jewish world, but had constantly deepened their Jewish-rootedness. Indeed, they were intensely involved in numerous endeavors in Israel as well as Jewish causes in the US, Canada and England.
Olmert recalled that only a few weeks ago he had been having dinner with Andrea and Charles Bronfman and they had been talking about Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose extremely busy schedule had precluded him from meeting Andrea Bronfman whom he had met on many previous occasions. She was somewhat annoyed that Sharon could not make time for her and Olmert had assured that Sharon would make a point of meeting her in the near future. On that same evening, Sharon fell ill and was taken to hospital. Three weeks later, Andrea Bronfman was dead.
A petite elegant woman, Andrea Bronfman's tasteful lifestyle was continued even in death. The ceiling and the walls of the marquee in which the service was held were draped with cream-colored curtains. The service was presided over by Rabbi Michael Melchior who developed a close relationship with the Bronfman through Birthright - Taglit, the organization they set up together with Michael Steinhardt to enable thousands of uncommitted young Jews to have an Israel experience free of charge.
Following the service in Gan Hashoshanim, Bronfman was laid to rest on the Mount of Olives in a brief and poignant service.