The Bronfman Center for Jewish Life is the principal vehicle for realizing 92nd Street Y's identity as a Jewish institution.
Its primary aim is to honor the Jewish faith and culture by sharing it with the world. The center provides the educational and spiritual means to make tradition, text and observance important to practicing Jews and to help both active and unaffiliated Jews find a comfortable way to connect with their heritage.
Jewish programs have existed at 92Y for over a century. 92nd Street Y began holding High Holiday services in 1900, and initiated Jewish programs for children in 1904. After the religious department disbanded in 1951, the Jewish content programs continued under the auspices of other departments until they were collected into the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life in 1992. The center operates through a combination of lectures, religious services, classes and workshops.
The Bronfman Center offers one of the most distinguished, provocative and widely acclaimed Jewish programs in the nation. The celebrated Jewish lecture series invites participants to listen and interact with renowned Jewish thinkers and leaders. Past speakers have included Elie Wiesel, Yitzhak Rabin, Cynthia Ozick, Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, Alan Dershowitz and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. Eminent figures from major Jewish organizations, universities and pulpits join us each year to grapple with contemporary issues in Jewish life and topics in Jewish history. Our classes and seminars, led by an outstanding and dedicated faculty, provide the opportunity to discover the meaning of being Jewish in the contemporary world.
The Bronfman Center is a home for those just beginning their Jewish inquiry and a place of study for the more advanced learner. In this encouraging and dynamic environment, adults and children can explore their Jewish heritage and strengthen their faith and tradition.
As adopted by the board of directors, 92Y's Statement of 92Y as a Jewish Institution reads:
92nd Street Y promotes public pride in the Jewish heritage and in modern Jewish civilization. We provide a setting in which Jews cultivate and strengthen their Jewish identity. We respect and respond to the diversity of religious, cultural and intellectual expression in contemporary Jewish life and foster constructive and mutually respectful relations among Jews. We uphold the historic Jewish emphasis on study, love of ideas, sanctity of family, the cycle of Jewish time and seasons, commitment to social justice and respect for humanity. We affirm our commitment to the State of Israel and to World Jewry.
As a principal vehicle for realizing the agency's stated identity as a Jewish institution, the objectives of the Bronfman Center for Jewish Life are:
- to sponsor public formal and informal Jewish education programs
- to strengthen 92Y's focus on and increase programs for Jews who are marginally affiliated
- to provide formal and informal education for all 92Y staff
- to be an active proponent for the integration of Jewish content and awareness throughout the agency and serve as a resource for other centers
- to develop a lay leadership training and education program
- to develop linkages with other Jewish organizations to spark collaborative programming
- to reach out to organizations in the community to develop programs on inter-faith and cross cultural concerns to serve as a gathering place for fellowship, recreation and celebration in a stimulating Jewish communal setting.