Mark Brickman remembered – a ‘founding father’ for Jewish Milwaukee | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Mark Brickman remembered – a ‘founding father’ for Jewish Milwaukee

Mark Brickman, a lifelong Jewish community leader who served in countless ways, died on Oct. 5, 2023, surrounded by his loved ones. He was 89. 

He devoted much of his life to the Milwaukee Jewish community. Brickman was board chair for Milwaukee Jewish Federation, annual campaign chair, and Jewish Community Foundation chair, among many, many other leadership posts. 

“Mark basically held every single position imaginable at our Milwaukee Jewish Federation,” said friend and former colleague Max Rasansky. “He was an extremely humble human being. There was no ego. It was his love.”

Brickman served on the board of several organizations outside the Jewish community too, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Froedtert Memorial Hospital and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business. He is remembered as a great philanthropist. 

“If we have such a thing as founding fathers of this community, Mark Brickman was one of them,” said Bert Bilsky, the Milwaukee Jewish Community Foundation’s first executive director from 1980-2012.   

“Mark never said no. His first love was for the Federation,” Bilsky recalled. “You never had to worry about follow-up, whether he’d do what he said he’d do — he always did. He always came through.”   

Bilsky further reflected that Brickman never saw distinctions between professionals and volunteers, offering everybody the same respect and commitment.   

“He was just really well-respected, and if you observed him and participated with him, you learned a lot. He went about his business in a very professional, straightforward way that made you want to emulate his style,” said Stephen Chernof, a lawyer who worked closely with Brickman in his brokerage work. 

Brickman had great passion for the state of Israel, visiting at least 30 times after his first time in 1971, taking his children and grandchildren along and always seeking connection between Jews and their homeland. 

Chernof said that he “fell in love with Israel.” 

“His passion never wavered, and the vibrancy of Jewish Milwaukee today is a testament to his heartfelt commitment and dedication,” said Miryam Rosenzweig, president and CEO of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “We are eternally grateful and are all too aware that there will never be another Mark Brickman.”

Recently, Brickman was granted a lifetime achievement award, where he spoke and reminded the audience that “all Jews are responsible for one another.”

“He was more than a mensch, he was a true tzadik, a righteous man,” said Rasansky, reminding us to carry the torch. “There were few that were like him then and few who are like him now.”