Close friends and leaders from across the Jewish world on Tuesday mourned the loss of dedicated philanthropist Andrea Bronfman, who was struck by a car and killed near her Manhattan home early Monday. She was 60.
"Andrea Bronfman lived every moment and didn't miss any," said Janet Aviad, director of the Charles R. Bronfman (CRB) Foundation, and a close friend of hers.
Bronfman was active in numerous Jewish and Israeli charities, many in partnership with her husband, Charles. She also helped organize the Gift of New York, a charity put together after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, to provide free tickets to sports and cultural events for the families of the victims.
Bronfman was born in London to an American mother and a Scottish father, but spent much of her life in Israel, as her parents had been connected with leading Israeli politicians from the early days of the state. They were also active in Jewish and Zionist causes in England.
Aside from their home in New York, the Bronfmans spent some three months each year at their home in the Talbieh neighborhood of Jerusalem, and were awarded honorary Jerusalem citizenship in 2002.
Aviad glowingly recounted Bronfman's vibrant passion for life. "Andrea had more energy than everybody else put together," she said. "She didn't write a check and sit back - she was very interested in details."
Describing Bronfman as "extremely dynamic," she stressed her fondness for the arts and her desire to cultivate Israeli arts and crafts and expose the nation's artists to the rest of the world.
Describing a typical day in the life of Bronfman, Aviad gave the impression that she never stopped moving. She would wake up at 6 a.m. to walk her dog in the Jerusalem Forest, Aviad said, and by 9:30 a.m. was making sure that everybody at the CRB Foundation was working well, only to travel a bit later to a Tel Aviv gallery while passing through the Keren Karev Foundation. She trekked back to Jerusalem only hours after that, Aviad recounted.
The last connection between the two friends was on Sunday, when Aviad wrote her an e-mail about the winner of the Andy Prize, an award given by the CRB Foundation to an outstanding Israeli crafts artist.
The idea of the Andy Prize was Charles's gift to Andrea, since crafts were "her favorite," said Aviad.
David A. Harris, executive director of American Jewish Committee, called Bronfman's death "a terrible, unspeakable loss." He said that she had "a tremendous heart, a very nimble mind, deep compassion and a penetrating intelligence."
Consul-General in New York Arye Mekel called Bronfman "a true ezer kenegdo, a spouse who is complementing the husband and together they create one whole."
Keren Hayesod-UIA world chairman Avi Pazner described Bronfman's passing as a "terrible loss for her family, the Jewish people and Israel."
"She was a very intelligent, forceful person," he said, adding that "she always knew exactly what she wanted and how to get it with much grace and elegance." Pazner emphasized her kindness, and highlighted her devotion to assisting Israel. He noted that she "was very supportive of the birthright program."
The United Jewish Communities issued a statement saying that, via the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, the Bronfman family has made an indelible mark on Jewish life from Canada to Israel, evoking the deepest values of leadership, charity and tikkun olam, repairing the world.
The Bronfman 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.
"We are all stunned and deeply saddened by Andrea's passing," said UJC chairman 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."
Participants in the birthright israel program, which Charles Bronfman founded with her support, also expressed sadness on hearing of her death, while thanking her for influencing their lives.
"Birthright gave me an amazing opportunity to develop a connection with Israel and with Judaism that I never would have had otherwise," said Dana Goldberg, 20, a University of Maryland junior who participated last winter. "I am very sad to hear about the death of Mrs. Bronfman. Though indirectly, she really touched my life and the life of so many other Jewish students through her generosity and vision."
"I found myself using the words 'incredible' and 'unreal' multiple times each day that I was in Israel," said Adam Soffrin, 21, who participated in birthright last month. "There were times during the trip when someone [in our group] would say, 'We're here for free,' and we would just break into laughter because it was just so unbelievable. I feel so lucky."
Avraham Infeld, president of Hillel International, of which Charles is a member of the board of governors, first met Andrea when he was a shaliah in London in the 1960s. "My memory constantly shifts from the young Andy Morrison, beautiful and full of life, to Andy Bronfman, still beautiful and full of life, but a generous and committed Jewish leader," he said. "She embodied the spirit of Jewish life, bursting with energy, enthusiasm, passion and creativity."
John S. Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York, said that "every discussion [with Andy] seemed to come back to Israel. Connecting the youth of North America, in particular, with Israel and the arts, these were her passions and she stayed with them over many decades. She was fervent in her embrace and love of Israel.
"I always felt from her comments to me that she felt fullest and most complete as a human being and as a Jew in Jerusalem, and it is to Jerusalem that she will return tomorrow afternoon. How fitting it is."
Andrea Bronfman is survived by husband, Charles; son Jeremy Cohen and wife Marci Ann; daughter Pippa Cohen; son Tony Cohen and wife Moira; stepson Stephen Bronfman and wife Claudine; stepdaughter Ellen Hauptman and husband Andre; sister Marcia (Kappy) Flanders; and six grandchildren: Danielle Maya Cohen, Scott Morrison Cohen, Talia Cohen, Alexandra Bronfman, Lila Hauptman and Zack Hauptman.
Messages of condolence may be sent to the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, 110 East 59th Street, Floor 26, New York, NY 10022.
The funeral of Andrea M. Bronfman is scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m. at the Rose Garden at 16, Pinsker Street, Talbieh and not at The Wohl Rose Garden near the Knesset as mentioned in yesterday's paper. Burial will follow at the Mount of Olives cemetery.
Elana Brownstein and Peter C. Beller contributed to this report.