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1185 Sheridan Road, Glencoe, IL 60022847.835.0724

Rabbi Herbert Bronstein

Rabbi Herbert Bronstein z”l (1930–2023) combined a successful vocation as a congregational rabbi with extensive community service and lifelong achievements in scholarship, academic teaching, lecturing, and writing. He served as rabbi of Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester, New York, for 15 years and later as senior rabbi of North Shore Congregation Israel for a quarter of a century. His emeritus title here was senior scholar. He was active in social justice and interfaith activities throughout his career.
 
Rabbi Bronstein was the editor of the Reform Movement’s A Passover Haggadah (CCAR Press, 1978), which has been termed a “modern liturgical classic,” and sold well over one million copies. He served as chairman of the Liturgy Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and chairman of the Joint Commission on Worship of American Reform Judaism for many years. In 2000, Rabbi Bronstein was honored as Alumnus of the Year by the University of Cincinnati’s School of Arts and Sciences. For 15 years he taught comparative religion at Lake Forest College and also taught courses in history and philosophy of religion at the University of Rochester, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Oakton Community College. He lectured at congregations and universities all over the United States and abroad. He was a visiting scholar at Oxford University in England, and served as scholar-in-residence at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario.
 
Rabbi Bronstein was a regular lecturer for Common Ground and OASIS in Chicago, and The Clearing and Lawrence University’s Bjorklunden in Wisconsin, as well as at The Mather Lifeways retirement community in Evanston, Illinois, where he resided since 2013.

 

To access Rabbi Herbert Bronstein's obituary, published by The Chicago Tribune, click here.

Funeral Service of Rabbi Herbert Bronstein

 

Poetry offered by Rabbi Daniel Bronstein

 

Eulogies offered by Rabbi Debra Bronstein and Miriam Bronstein

 

Eulogy Offered by Rabbi Stephen Hart

 


Tribute Messages

“I worked in the NSCI synagogue office from 2009–2019. I’m from Cincinnati, where my father, Lowell McCoy taught homiletics at HUC beginning in 1949–1950. Herbert Bronstein was one of my father’s early students. Once I began work at NSCI and made the connection, both my father and Rabbi Bronstein spoke fondly of each other. Imagine my surprise when my daughter, a freshman at Lake Forest College told me, ‘Mom, I have this elderly professor named Rabbi Bronstein’. I was tickled to let her know the connection between Herb and her grandfather. It was always a joy to speak with Rabbi Bronstein. He always asked about my daughter, Melissa. It was a pleasure to know him.”

 

—Lisa McCoy Goosmann

I met Rabbi Bronstein while I was a student at Lake Forest College in the late 1990s. I had taken a Religion class that he had taught – and I was so profoundly affected by the class and our discussions during his office hours, that I continued to study with him, both at school and later independently one-on-one in conjunction with other classes I took at NSCI. My studies with him changed me so much that not a week has gone by in my life that I have not thought of him. He was a scholar, a deeply caring person, and a true tzadik and the world has lost a treasure. 

 

—Antonio Musillami

“I had the privilege of serving as President of North Shore Congregation Israel from 2009 to 2012. Although I previously knew Rabbi Bronstein, I really got to know him a bit better during that time. He was always warm, gracious, and supportive to me in my role—and could not have been lovelier. I had other connections with him as well. He and my mother, Dorothy Wexler, were Habonim-niks together. When I told my parents that my family was joining NSCI, they were so thrilled, because of Rabbi Bronstein’s role and impact there. My own father, who is on the cusp of turning 100 next month, frequently participated in classes that the rabbi taught and has told me how much he learned from those experiences. I was always inspired by him and I feel honored to have known him.”

 

—Judy Wexler

"I had the honor of serving as president with Rabbi Bronstein during the last two years of his tenure as Senior Rabbi. We worked together to ensure that his last two years were successful and that the transition went smoothly.  We shared a vision of what those two years should look like and succeeded to our great satisfaction. He was just wonderful to work with. The president/senior rabbi relationship can be awkward, but we never had a moment of tension. It was such a privilege to have worked with him in so many different ways. His memory will truly be a blessing for us."

 

—David Grossberg

“It was extremely inspiring to stream the funeral service and hear the loving tributes to Herb (and to Tamar as well, of course). Marsha and I share the great sadness we’re all feeling.

 

I’m forever appreciative of Herb’s support of my joining the NSCI family and my matriculation toward the cantorate.  He was a conscientious and dedicated mentor, and his innumerable contributions to my spiritual and workplace life will always be with me.  Our collaborations in liturgical and ritual structures have been foundational to me all along the way, and our major projects, such as Bloch’s Avodath HaKodesh in the context of a Friday night service, stand out brightly in memory.

 

When I visited Herb late in the fall, we were still able to have an animated and insightful conversation about contemporary concerns in Judaic learning and synagogue life.  I will treasure the remembrance of that encounter.

 

Marsha and I extend our condolences to the family and all their loved ones.  May Herb’s memory be an abundant blessing.”

 

—Cantor Richard Cohn

“Rabbi Bronstein was the dearest man. I loved him; he was such a fine person. He devoted his life to the temple. He was a real human being. I remember when we all went to Israel together and had the time of our lives. In the last six months of his life, we paid tribute to him at a dinner with congregants who had been members of NSCI for 50 years or more. I was the first president of the temple, and he used to say to me, ‘Heavy is the head that wears the crown’—he was always joking, he was an incredible person. I miss him, but I know he’s happy where he is.” —Judy Geleerd Kitzes

Wed, February 28 2024 19 Adar I 5784