BERT BORNBLUM of blessed memory (1920-2016), a proud Zionist and friend of Israel

Memphis has been blessed with a number of generous and caring philanthropists who have donated their time and financial resources to advance the arts, education and human rights.

Bert Bornblum was one of those sterling individuals. He died at age 96. He left a lasting legacy in terms of his contributions to education. Bert donated millions toward numerous education efforts in Memphis. His donations helped build the Bornblum Solomon Schechter School, including setting up an endowment that means every student at that school will receive a healthy gift to offset tuition.

Bert and his late brother, David, founded the Judaic studies program at the University of Memphis. They donated to LeMoyne-Owen College as well as Southwest Tennessee Community College. The STCC Macon Cove Campus’ library is named after Bert Bornblum.

Mr. Bornblum’s friends said he was passionate about education because he was not able to complete his after fleeing Nazi Germany with his brother and arriving in the United States in 1938. They made a fortune and donated generously to education to give others a chance at something they missed.

In 2005 the Bornblum Chair for Land of Israel Studies was established in the Land of Israel Studies Department at the Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee. Activities of the chair include workshops and  conferences both academic and popular.

Bert had a unique educational vision where funding research projects for the Land of Israel Studies Department staff  was dependent upon student involvement as research assistants.  This promoted academic research while simultaneously exposing young students to the world of scholarship and research.

Bert’s generosity and vision extended beyond the established chair. He provided scholarships annually to students of the Land of Israel Studies Department, who along with studying toward their degree, trained to become licensed Israeli tour guides.

In 2015 a new campus for the Land of Israel Studies Department, which included the renovation of a historic and important Ottoman period train station, was named in Bert’s honor.

Unfortunately, due to his health, Bert was unable to visit Israel in his last years. The Executive Director of the Bornblum foundation, Alvin Gordon, and his son Baruch, the representative of the Foundation in Israel, informed Bert of the developments and activities at the Land of Israel Studies Department both from the Chair and from other donations.

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