Rabbi Herbert Bronstein, HaRav Tzvi Hersh ben Moshe v’Leah, father of Rabbi Deborah Bronstein, passed away on December 30th, 2023 and was laid to rest in Arlington Heights, IL on December 31st.
Rabbi Deborah returned to Boulder on Monday, January 8th, and there will be a short shiva service at Congregation Har HaShem on Tuesday evening, January 9th, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. In addition, there will be two small services at her home on Wednesday January 10th and Thursday January 11th evenings from 5:30-7:00 pm. Contact the Har HaShem office for the address.
Rabbi Herbert Bronstein, a native of Cincinnati Ohio, served for over a quarter of the century as Senior Rabbi and later as Senior Scholar at North Congregation Israel of Glencoe, Il. He was known for his erudition, work with youth, warm pastoral style, and abiding love of Jewish liturgy, ritual, and study. His rabbinate combined congregational leadership alongside scholarly achievements and active participation in American public life, especially as an advocate for many social justice efforts in the greater Chicago community. He is a former president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis.
He was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, receiving his BA in 1952 and MA in 1954. After attending the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he was ordained rabbi in 1957. Scholarship was a lifelong endeavor. He engaged in many years of graduate study in History of Religions at the University of Chicago and at Oxford University. He was named a Life Member of the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago Divinity School. A prolific writer, Rabbi Bronstein contributed to journals as wide-ranging as the Journal of Religion, the American Jewish Archives, the Journal of Reform Judaism and the Shakespeare Quarterly. He is best known for editing the 1974 Reform movement Passover Haggadah, which was translated into many languages. Rabbi Bronstein served as Chair of the Central Conference of American Rabbi’s (CCAR) Liturgy Committee and was also a member of the Executive Board. A renowned teacher, he was a lecturer at numerous colleges and universities, and at the Wexner Heritage Foundation. He served as an adjunct professor of World Religions at Lake Forest College for more than a decade.
Prior to his many years in the Chicago area, Rabbi Bronstein served for 15 years at Temple Brith Kodesh in Rochester, New York. Beyond the synagogue, his involvement in the Rochester community included service on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council, as a civilian member of the Police Advisory Board and on the Metropolitan Housing Committee of Rochester.
A life-long activist for civil rights, anti-war efforts, and American democracy, Rabbi Bronstein was also deeply involved in furthering interfaith relations. He served on the Boards of the Chicago Council of Religious Leaders and the Parliament of World Religions, also pioneering and fostering Jewish -Muslim dialogue.
Rabbi Bronstein was a great lover of the arts and humanities, especially music, literature, and all things Shakespeare. He revered the natural world and was an avid skier.
Rabbi Bronstein was a devoted son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. His 62-year marriage to Tamar (Blumenfield) Bronstein (prior to her death in 2016) was at the center of his life. Together they dedicated themselves to Jewish community and Jewish practice and to American democracy. Rabbi Bronstein is survived by his children Rabbi Deborah Ruth Bronstein, Miriam Bronstein, MSW, Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Bronstein, daughter-in- Law Sari Fensterheim, and grandchildren Lev S.R. Kling-Bronstein and Samuel E. Fensterheim-Bronstein.
Memorials in his memory to North Shore Congregation Israel Karav Fund, 1185 Sheridan Road, Glencoe, IL 60022, www.nsci.org. Sierra Club, 70 E. Lake Street, Suite 1500, Chicago, IL 60601 www.sierraclub.org/illinois.