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Alvin Bronstein, 90; Leader Expanded Outreach of L.A. Area Jewish Agency

August 21, 2004|Jon Thurber | Times Staff Writer

Alvin Bronstein, executive director of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles from 1968 to 1978, has died. He was 90.

Bronstein died of natural causes Aug. 9 in Ojai, according to his son, Phil.

During his tenure, the council expanded its outreach to the community, opening branch facilities in the South Bay and the San Fernando Valley.

It also created the Menorah Housing Foundation to address the growing need for dignified housing for seniors. The project now owns or manages 14 properties containing 950 independent-living apartments for low-income seniors.

"He had the great virtue of being a professional who created a constituency, and people responded to him," said Ed Sanders, a Century City lawyer who later served in the Carter White House as an aide on Middle Eastern affairs.

During Bronstein's tenure, the council also purchased its current headquarters at 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.

Sanders, who worked with Bronstein as president of the Jewish Federation from 1973 to 1974, said he and Bronstein also created the Council for Jewish Life, which worked with synagogues and temples to enhance Jewish education.

According to Sanders, Bronstein persuaded to the council to take a stronger stand on Soviet Jewry, lobbying Washington, D.C., to make Moscow accountable for its emigration policies. He also said fundraising increased dramatically under Bronstein's leadership, from $16 million in 1970 to more than $40 million in 1973.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Bronstein was the youngest of eight children. His father managed a clothing factory until the Depression hit; he ended up repairing uniforms at a military camp. Gifted artistically, Alvin played the piano at Jewish community organizations in Louisville and danced professionally with his sister.

Bronstein did field work in the Jewish community as an undergraduate at the University of Louisville.

He earned his master's degree in social work in a groundbreaking program at the University of Chicago.

For the next 42 years, he was actively involved in community service and worked in leading Jewish organizations in Atlanta; St. Louis; Essex County, N.J.; and Toledo, Ohio. In Montreal, he headed the city's Allied Jewish Community Services for eight years before being named to the Jewish Federation Council post.

He was married to the former Charlotte Michlin for 60 years before her death last October. They had moved to Ojai in the late 1970s.

In addition to son Phil, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, Bronstein is survived by a daughter, Susan of Ojai, and a grandson, Roan of San Francisco.

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