A little more than a month after being named acting regional director of the American Jewish Committee, Marcia Bronstein, a lifelong Jewish communal professional, can officially remove “acting” from her job title.
The 53-year-old Bronstein is replacing Rabbi Mark Robbins, who stepped down in March after less than two years on the job, saying he hoped to return to the rabbinate.
Bronstein has served as the organization’s regional director of development for the past five years and hopes to use her fundraising prowesss and passion for AJC to expand the organization beyond its regional stronghold in Center City. The group, she said, should have a presence in more parts of Pennsylvania, as well as Delaware and Southern New Jersey.
“If we are going to be true to our mission, we need to expand our visibility. We need to broaden our reach,” said Bronstein.
Long known for its research on American Jewry and civil rights advocacy, the AJC in recent years has concentrated on global diplomacy on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. Domestically, AJC has narrowed its focus to certain key issues, such as pushing for energy independence, immigration reform and building coalitions, such as those between Latino-Jewish ties.
According to several sources, the local AJC office has, in recent years, been asked to increase its fundraising for the national office, at the expense of local programing efforts.
But Bronstein said this isn’t the case. “Speaking with a fundraising hat, you can’t do one without the other. You need to show what it is you do,” she said.
Morton Simon, board president of the local chapter, said that the "search committee of 10 was unanimous in agreeing with National AJC that Marcia was the perfect choice, and I have received many notes of congratulations and thanks from members of the full board. This is a busy time of our year, and Marcia is up and running in full stride. We look forward to building on AJC’s activities and successes as we move into an even greater future with Marcia’s leadership."
Bronstein, who grew up in the Bronx, N.Y., has a background in social work and began her career helping Russian refugees resettle in this country. But she grew frustrated with the lack of resources available and decided that the best way to help people was to help Jewish organizations raise more money.
She worked for Jewish federations in New York and New Jersey before joining the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia in 1984. She spent 15 years raising funds for the organization.
In between Federation and the AJC, Bronstein worked at the National Liberty Museum, Martin’s Run and the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia, an umbrella organization that no longer exists.
Her involvement in the local Jewish community extends beyond her work. The mother of two college-age children is a longtime member of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park. She also serves as a parachaplain for the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia and sits on the board of the Jewish Film Festival.
In terms of AJC, she said she’s not particularly looking to add to its local membership list of several hundred. She said the organization is getting away from the membership model and adopting more of a donor model. Her goal is to connect what AJC does globally to what happens in Philadelphia, she said. She’s particularly excited about AJC’s Latino-Jewish initiative, an attempt to build bridges taking place at the local, national and even international level.
“Look at what AJC does on a global level,” she said. “It is a global organization. Look at AJC as a map of the world. We have dialogues and friends and connections in all those places and that makes the biggest difference in the world.”