Mark Brickman has been granted the inaugural Distinguished Leadership Award by Milwaukee Jewish Federation.
Brickman is a former Jewish Community Foundation chair, Federation Annual Campaign chair and Federation Board chair, some of the most critical roles in the Federation world.
Former Milwaukee Jewish Federation Board Chair Moshe Katz spoke at the Aug. 9, 2022, Federation Annual Meeting to grant the award, expressing heartfelt appreciation for Brickman taking the local Jewish community on a “cherished path.” He noted, with some mirth that Brickman has “set the bar ridiculously high.”
Addressing Brickman from the podium at the event, at the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay, Katz said: “You have taken us on countless trips to our beloved Israel and shared your passion for a country and her people. You have sat on countless boards in countless meetings, keeping us on target by asking extremely hard questions and making sure we answer them all well.”
Brickman has also solicited millions of dollars and shared his own personal wealth and resources, Katz pointed out from the podium.
“I’m proudly overwhelmed,” Brickman said, when he took the podium after a video played with much adulation. Now in his 80s, he expressed thanks for his family and other highly committed volunteers, present and past.
He said that he is “deeply indebted to the incredible professionals I’ve had the privilege of working with – it’s almost 50 years, I think, and learning from over the years.”
Brickman noted that “my involvement with Israel related activities led me to become even more involved with the Jewish community here. I began to understand that those of us who have in our lifetime seen both the horror of the Holocaust and the rebirth of the state of Israel and have a special obligation to use our unprecedented wealth and power to ensure the state of Israel remains strong and secure.”
He added that “our beloved America remains a bastion for those needing hope and security. I never expected to reach the point in my life where we … would need to recognize that antisemitism is actually again spreading throughout the world.”
Brickman said he is comforted by the knowledge that the community and the Milwaukee Jewish Federation are aware of the dangers that exist and are taking strong measures.
Brickman noted the common refrain: “all Jews are responsible one for one another.”
Video applauds Brickman
Katz introduced the video with community leaders describing Brickman with words like “inspiring,” “humble,” “committed,” “mentor,” and “caring,” among others.
“Earnest Hemmingway once wrote, as you get older it’s harder to have heroes, but it’s also more necessary,” said Herb Kohl, the former U.S. Senator, in the video. “Mark is one of my heroes.”
Milwaukee Jewish Federation president and CEO Miryam Rosenzweig,
said that “he has influenced generations of leadership in the community, and he is still there. He still comes to all the board meetings; he still asks the questions. He embodies leadership.”
Federation Board Chair Joan Lubar said her parents were invited by Brickman to travel with a Federation mission trip to Israel and this inspired them to become more involved in Jewish Milwaukee, which filtered down to her.
Others, like Holocaust survivor Eva Zaret and Chabad of Wisconsin founder Rabbi Yisroel Shmotkin, also had affectionate and appreciative works for Brickman.
Brickman was gifted both a plaque and an Israeli-made yad.
“As you know a yad is used to point to the words out while we’re reading from Torah,” Katz said. “You have been our yad in this community.”