by Mark Spira, Chief Development Officer, Washington DCJCC
Ann Loeb Bronfman z”l
September 19, 1932 – April 5, 2011
The Washington DCJCC is an exhibit of Ann Loeb Bronfman’s generosity and commitment to philanthropic work.
Early last week, the Washington DCJCC and the Washington community lost a great person who made the life of so many around her better in so many ways. She did so quietly and with little fanfare so we thought to mark the occasion it would be special to share her story of involvement and support of the JCC with you.
In Spring 1995, prior to the beginning of construction to restore and completely renovate the Washington DCJCC building at 16th and Q Streets NW, Ann Loeb Bronfman made a $500,000 gift to the “Campaign to Rebuild the Center in Our Nation’s Capital.” This lead gift was recognized by naming the Art Gallery to be located in the main lobby of the JCC building, the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery.
With the help of Ms. Bronfman’s support and generosity, the Campaign met its goal of raising $13.5 million, and the completely renovated building opened to great fanfare in January 1997. Included in the opening programs was the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery’s inaugural exhibition, the thematically appropriate, Urban Diaspora: Reclaiming Space. Featuring photographs from across the country, the exhibit told stories—including the DCJCC’s—of reclaiming Jewish spaces, adapting them, reinterpreting their use and renewing their connection to the Jewish community.
Ms. Bronfman played many roles at the JCC, from campaign donor, to Opening Committee member, to Board member, to Ambassadors Council member and through it all she has remained a steadfast supporter of the Agency and the Gallery.
In the Center’s early years, Ms. Bronfman’s dedicated annual support helped build the infrastructure of the Gallery and set a regular schedule that included 1-2 major exhibits each year. In 2000, Ms. Bronfman created a $250,000 endowment to permanently fund the curation of original exhibitions in the Gallery and that fund has provided sustained support for the Gallery ever since. In 2001 when the JCC launched a campaign to cover the increased costs of operations for the first 3 years of occupancy, Ms. Bronfman again stepped forward as a lead supporter and generously gave $50,000 to the campaign.
For the past 8 years Ms. Bronfman has given one of the largest annual gifts from an individual to support the entire Agency, and specifically the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery, which thanks to her generous and ongoing support has grown into a thriving program which presents 2-3 professionally-curated exhibits each year and a host of auxiliary programs highlighting artists both featured in the exhibits and the area’s arts community. The Gallery is also a willing partner with the other components of the JCC’s Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts—recently anchoring a examination of Andy Warhol’s art as it intersects with American Jewry, the art and writings of Jules Feiffer and currently exploring the intersection between art and science in an exhibit in partnership with an upcoming production at Theater J. In addition, the Gallery presents small-scale exhibitions in other spaces around the JCC including the Ina and Jack Kay Community Hall and Harold and Barbara Berman Café spaces and has been working with the Arts specialist in the preschool on major projects that have combined the Gallery exhibits with long-term projects for each of our 7 preschool classes. Ultimately Ms. Bronfman’s dedicated support has allowed the original intent of the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery—to be a public space accessible to all free of charge—to remain a reality by helping the Center to continue to fully subsidize the exhibits and staffing for the program.
In addition to her support of the Gallery and Agency through a major annual gift, Ms. Bronfman has supported special projects from time to time including a gift in 2008 to support Theater J’s world premiere of its first commissioned musical, David in Shadow and Light and a gift to the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival in 2006.
What started as a dream, a concept on paper, flourished into an institution in the 16 years of Ms. Bronfman’s involvement with the DCJCC. With her unwavering support, the JCC serves over 500,000 people each year, and—with the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery as a focal point and a total Arts budget approaching $2 million a year—the Center has become a national leader in presenting Jewish Arts. Her generosity and gentle kind spirit will be greatly missed at the Washington DCJCC. The Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery will serve a tangible reminder of the art and beauty that Ann brought into this world.