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Bronstein, Herbert


BRONSTEIN, HERBERT (1930– ), U.S. Reform rabbi and liturgist. Bronstein was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he earned his B.A. (1952) and M.A. (1953) at the University of Cincinnati. He received his B.H.L. from Hebrew Union College in 1954, followed by his M.H.L. in 1956, and rabbinic ordination in 1957. Bronstein began his career as a congregational rabbi at Temple B'rith Kodesh in Rochester, New York (1957–72), where he also taught history of religions at the University of Rochester, founded the Institute of Pastoral Counseling in cooperation with the Department of Psychiatry of that university's Medical School, and served as chairman of the Jewish Community Relations Council. In 1972, Bronstein was appointed senior rabbi of North Shore Congregation Israel, in Glencoe, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where he also lectured on the faculties of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, and the Catholic Theological Union. In addition, he served as president of both the Chicago Association of Reform Rabbis and the Chicago Board of Rabbis. In 1997, he was appointed rabbi emeritus/senior scholar of the congregation he had served for 25 years. From 1995, he lectured on history of religions at Lake Forest College.

Active in interfaith relations, Bronstein founded a number of ecumenical organizations on the local, regional, and international levels. He founded the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago and served as its first vice president (1987). Together with Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, he established the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue (1984), and later the Midwest Conference on Conscience, under the auspices of the Religious Action Center of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Board of the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Center. Additionally, Bronstein was a founder, member, and trustee of the Council for the Parliament of World Religions from its inception in 1988, as well as founder and co-chair of the Jewish-Muslim dialogue under the auspices of the Council for the Parliament of World Religions. He delivered papers at the Parliaments of Religions sessions in Chicago (1993), Cape Town, South Africa (1997), and Barcelona, Spain (2004), and helped write and organize the Inter-Religious Celebrations that opened the first parliament in Chicago, as well as the opening of the Assembly of Religious Leaders at Monserrat, Spain, prior to the Barcelona Parliament.

Bronstein was a leading figure in shaping the liturgy and ritual of the Reform movement. He was a member of the Reform Jewish Liturgy Committee of the *Central Conference of American Rabbis for more than 30 years (1965–97) and chairman of the committee for six of those years (1981–87). During that time, the committee published the "Gates of …" series of prayer books, plus two works that Bronstein himself edited: the Haggadah for Passover and the Five Scrolls (Festival Worship). The Haggadah has had several editions issued over the years; in 1999, the ccar declared it a "Modern Liturgical Classic." Additionally, Bronstein was chairman of the Joint [ccar-uahc] Commission on Worship (1972–82) and a member of those organizations' Joint Social Action Committee. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and chaired the ccar's first two Rabbinic Academic Convocations (1992, 1994). In 1988, Bronstein received the Isaac Mayer Wise Award for contributions to Reform Judaism, and was designated Distinguished Alumnus of the Year 2000 at McMicken College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Cincinnati.

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]

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