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University of Colorado Boulder Program in Jewish Studies

Har HaShem Writing First Letters of a New Torah This Weekend

New Torah Named in Honor of Arthur Bronstein

Har HaShem will hold an opening ceremony for its Letter-by-Letter Torah Writing Project from noon-1 pm Sunday, April 10, in the synagogue’s sanctuary. The first letters of the new Torah scroll will be written. Reservations are optional at https://harhashem.wufoo.com/forms/april-10-torah-project-opening-ceremony/, but those who RSVP will be entered into a raffle to fill in the letters of the very first word of the Torah. Har HaShem’s Board of Trustees is naming the Torah for the late Arthur Bronstein.

Art_and_Sylvia_Bronstein
Art and Sylvia Bronstein

Art Bronstein gave 50 years of his life as a founder of Har HaShem, a teacher of Torah, a board leader and as an active, bright intellectual light in the congregation until his death at 94 on May 23, 2015. His family is carrying that light forward by making a major donation to fund the year-long project of writing a new Torah scroll for Har HaShem.

The family members wrote that they believe that “contributing to the writing of a Torah by his congregation, for which he was a member of nearly half a century is, of all possibilities, the best way to remember Art.”

Bronstein was part of the original 16 families who held services in each other’s homes in the early 1960s. There were very few Jews in Boulder then, recalled Stan Goldberg, who later became the architect for the original Har HaShem building. When IBM moved to Boulder and brought more Jews to the city, the number of Jewish families expanded and the group would sometimes meet for services in Unit 36 (Double Chai) at Crossroads East, 1750 30th St.

The original Har HaShem building was constructed in 1967 and consisted of what is now the social hall. Goldberg was the architect for the original structure and subsequent additions. He also was a business partner for many years with Bronstein, who was founder and president of the Globe Industrial Bank in Boulder from 1963-1983.

“Art was probably considered the leading business man of the community and was very active always, and very highly respected,” said Goldberg, who also played tennis with Bronstein. “He was a very instrumental part of the community.”

Because of his financial expertise, Bronstein helped shepherd the finances involved with the $3,900 purchase of the original property in 1965 and with the $35,116 financing of the building construction in 1967.

By then, the congregation had grown to 42 families, many of whom took out loans against their homes to pay for the construction, according to long-time Har HaShem member Don Margolis. Margolis came to Boulder as an IBM attorney and he and his late wife, Barbara, were among the group of Har HaShem founders. Margolis served as a Har HaShem board treasurer in 1967, the year of the synagogue’s construction, while Bronstein served as vice president and then later that year as president.

That year also was the year the congregation adopted the name Har HaShem, or Mountain of God, Margolis recalled. The congregation originally was incorporated as the Boulder Jewish Fellowship, and that name is carried over to the present on certain legal documents.

“Art was always in the middle of everything,” Margolis said. “Art was the little Dutch boy. Whenever there was a leak in the dike, Art was leading the effort to come up with the solution.”

In those early years, Bronstein made arrangements to get siddurs from a Denver congregation that was buying new ones; he obtained a donation of 50 folding chairs from the Samsonite family, and was the instigator for building Har HaShem’s Aron Kodesh, or ark containing the Torahs; the Amud, or reading table; a set of tall, matching walnut chairs; and the Tree of Life wall plaque. The Aron Kodesh was built for the original sanctuary and was modified to fit into the current sanctuary. The other items also are still in use.

Bronstein was born in Denver on June 10, 1920. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an English degree from the University of Colorado in 1942. After serving in the Army during World War II, he received his master’s degree in English Literature from Columbia University in 1946.

He then joined his father’s finance company in Cheyenne. Bronstein moved to Boulder in 1959 and in 1963 created the Globe Industrial Bank at the corner of Broadway and Spruce.

Bronstein had a love of literature throughout his life. He developed an extensive personal library on a wide variety of subjects, including Jewish literature, history and poetry. He participated in Torah study at Har HaShem and taught an adult education class on the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible, for many years.

“Art’s love of Torah led him into different genres of Jewish literature,” said Rabbi Deborah Bronstein, who was Senior Rabbi at Har HaShem starting in 1994 and served for 20 years before becoming rabbi emeritus.

“He enriched Torah study at Har HaShem with his own wide-ranging learning. He was very supportive of the rabbis of Har HaShem, encouraging all of us in our own learning and teaching, and for this I will personally be forever grateful,” she said. “Through humor, learning and his own good deeds, Art Bronstein modeled the highest ideals in Judaism, and Har HaShem will always be better for his example.”

Rabbi Fred Greene recalls meeting him during the rabbi’s interview process. “It was clear to me – even then – how special Art Bronstein was. It is a special honor to be remembered as a founder, but Art brought many more gifts through his leadership, his presence, and his commitment to advancing Jewish community here in Boulder.”

Bronstein also was an avid bridge player, skied until he was 70 and played tennis until he was 85. After his marriage to his first wife, Shirley Bernstein, he married Sylvia Bockstein Schwartz in 1975. Current family members include his son, Michael Bronstein; stepchildren Celia Headley, Benjamin Schwartz, Janis Lynch, Marcie Haloin and Sylvia Springer; and a brother, Sidney Bronstein.

“Art would be delighted to see the initiation and ultimate success of the Letter-by-Letter Torah writing project,” added Margolis. “And the congregation will surely be delighted to obtain a new Torah scroll, which will carry and honor the ‘Arthur Bronstein’ name in perpetuity.”

 

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