Bruce Slovin: With the Center for Jewish History debt free, its founding chairman steps down

Source: JTA, 5-25-11

Bruce Slovin speaking at the 10th anniversary gala of the Center for Jewish History, where he was honored as he leaves his post as its founding chairman, May 10, 2011. (John Halpern)

One night back in 1985, businessman Bruce Slovin was walking home from a corporate board meeting with a lawyer named Joe Greenberger when Greenberger asked him about his involvement in the Jewish world.

Slovin responded that he wasn’t at all active, so Greenberger invited him to attend the next board meeting of YIVO, the research institute in New York on East European Jewry and Yiddish.

Slovin, who had recently lost his grandfather and father, attended the meeting and found himself spellbound.

“There was sitting my grandfather and father, who had just died — another Shlomo and a Yaakov,” he said, invoking his father and grandfather’s names.

“They were smoking with cigarettes like this” — he said, making an overhand gesture with his own Parliament cigarette. “They would drink schnapps after they had the board meeting. They were great storytellers. My father and grandfather were alive again.”

The flash of nostalgia set Slovin, a Brooklyn native, on a course that led to his joining the board of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and ultimately becoming the founding chairman of the Center for Jewish History in New York.

The center is a partnership of five historical organizations: the American Jewish Historical Society, the American Sephardi Federation, the Leo Baeck Institute, the Yeshiva University Museum and YIVO. It features the largest repository of Jewish historical artifacts in the Diaspora, with an impressive building near New York’s Union Square that contains 100 million artifacts and documents, and a library with half a million volumes.

More than 250 people gathered May 10 at a dinner to fete Slovin, 75, as he steps down as the center’s chairman….READ MORE

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