Judith Bronfman

Time of Service:

Judith Bronfman’s family invites you to a celebration of her life, which will be held on Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 3 pm in New York City at Riverside Memorial Chapel (180 West 76th St at Amsterdam), which is right on the block which she so dearly loved. If you like to share a remembrance of Judith, please contact her daughters Elisa Bronfman by phone or by text (617-596-2467) or Nina Collins by email (thecollinsclan@optonline.net).

Place of Service:

The Riverside Memorial Chapel
Judith Bronfman, medieval scholar and political activist, died Saturday May 7th 2016 after a long and valiant battle with cancer. Judith was an Upper Westsider for almost 60 years, and leaves behind many beloved friends, family members, committees, and causes. She was a devoted mother to Elisa, Nina and Eben, mother-in-law to Matt and Debra, sister to Carolyn, and grandmother to Spencer (18), Sarah (17), Hannah (15), Luke (15), Amelia (14) and Sean (11). Judith was a "woman of grace and dignity" a caring, fair and thoughtful person who, as one good friend said, "was remarkable in the ways that she put others first." Judith received her bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and completed her PhD at New York University, even though she had three children through her entire doctoral program. She taught for many years at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in addition to serving for many years as the assistant to the president, and as an adjunct professor of English at many local colleges. Judith was a beloved fixture at all medieval events, a person one always looked forward to seeing. She was an active supporter of the Early Book Society, and attended the first 12 international conferences of the Society, listening attentively to papers and was always willing to be helpful to others. Her main scholarly work was focused on Geoffrey Chaucer’s Clerk’s Tale. About her book Chaucer's "Clerk's Tale”: The Griselda Story Received, Rewritten, Illustrated (1994), Edward Wheatley wrote the following: “Judith Bronfman's descriptive bibliography will certainly teach every reader something of interest about the reception-and transmission of the tale of Griselda through the past seven centuries.” Judith held strong political convictions and believed in a life of service to causes she believed in. Once entering an organization, she invariably played a key role – her intelligence, clear thinking, courage, diplomacy and tenacity made her very valuable. She got things done with an unassuming, quiet, collegial competence and professionalism. In return the members of these boards or groups welcomed her engagement and appreciated her work. Over her life, she was a member and contributor to so many organizations that they cannot all be listed here. Her loss will be felt deeply by them. For more than a decade, she has been a member of the Executive Council of the Retirees Chapter of the Professional Staff Congress, the faculty and staff union at the City University of New York, arranging the semi-annual lunches, getting speakers, organizing lobbying efforts, and even attending meetings in Albany when sick since she wanted to carry out her obligation as an elected official. Her passing will be difficult for her friends in the community. She served as her co-op Board President, was very involved with Upper West Side Community Board and was the voice for the block/neighborhood. Her commitment to the Block Association was steadfast and she delighted in being one of the main organizers for the annual spring planting and white elephant sale. During last year's spring planting, walking had become difficult for her. She purchased a scooter and could be seem whizzing down the block issuing instructions from her scooter. She was indomitable. Judith was present at many marches on Washington supporting Civil Rights and protesting the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s. She carefully considered every political candidate and cause. She was a member of Park River Independent Democrats (PRID) for more than 50 years. Judith worked with the CARE housing group in saving the renovations for the apartments (on Ninth Avenue in the 50s) when the organization was under duress. In March she was delighted to attend a CARE meeting, involving a flight of stairs and a late night meeting. She was also a devoted helper to the Reisenbach Foundation. Judith never complained about her illness, always remained positive and was determined to remain independent, which she did. She approached her cancer with such a conquering spirit and immense courage that her loss seems unbelievable. Despite her cancer treatments, she had been attending book groups, meetings and lectures. Her love and expertise in the arts (books, shows, music, art) never faded. For example, a week before her death she was determined to, and did attend, her book group meeting at Book Culture on the Upper West Side. She very much enjoyed the meeting and the ceremonial mussels at her favorite restaurant Citron with her friends. The spring planting, on May 14th, on 76th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam will be a special one which will celebrate her life and love of the neighborhood, along with other friends lost. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center P.O. Box 5028 Hagerstown, MD 21741-5028 or consider donating blood in her name at Memorial Sloane Kettering at 1275 York Ave (bet 67th and 68th streets)
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