Arthur Brody of Watchung, a force in the local and national Jewish community as a lay leader and professional, died July 28. He was 86.
A president of the MetroWest Jewish federation from 1975 to 1978, and chair of its UJA Campaign from 1972 to 1975, he led numerous fund-raising and planning committees and took a keen interest in strengthening the field of Jewish communal service.
In 1981 he established the Leo Brody Jewish Communal Service Award in memory of his father, who like his son had served the Jewish community as a volunteer both nationally and locally. The annual award recognizes individuals who have been employed in Jewish communal service for five years or less.
“Arthur was a life-long pillar of our community,” said Martin S. Fox, a past president of the MetroWest federation, now known as the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. “His interests and great contributions permeated all aspects of our federation life. He learned well from and followed in the footsteps of his father, who was one of the important leaders of the federation a generation ago. Arthur will be missed and long remembered by his survivors and in future generations.”
“Our community is greatly saddened,” said Lori Klinghoffer, GMW federation president and Brody’s cousin. “Arthur was clearly one of our great leaders — a role model, a teacher, a mentor to me and to so many others. He was a constant presence in Greater MetroWest and his passing leaves a great void. I feel the loss in my own heart, but he left a magnificent legacy.”
Brody’s commitment to the Jewish community was forged early: He made his first contribution to UJA in 1946 when he was 19, with a gift of $10. Jane Brody, his wife of 53 years, recalled that Leo Brody had been a president of Temple B’nai Abraham when it was still in Newark, and that her husband brought his passion for Jewish life into the marriage with him.
“It was the biggest part of our lives, with our family,” said Jane, who is still a member of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston.
Their son Richard added, “He had a love for the Jewish world throughout his life that has become a part of our family’s life and heritage. Now, it is passing on to his grandchildren.”
A successful vintner, Arthur Brody began his career in 1948 in his family’s industrial catering company covering the greater New York metropolitan area. Eventually, he owned vineyards and wineries in New York and California. He was president of Gold Seal Vineyards from 1958 to 1980 and president of International Vineyards beginning in 1973.
Throughout his business career, he was involved in Jewish causes as a volunteer. In addition to holding the highest leadership positions at the MetroWest federation — he completed the late Frank Lautenberg’s term as MetroWest UJA Campaign chair when the future senator resigned to become National UJA chair, and served for another two years — he chaired various campaign divisions, including special gifts, trades and professions, advanced gifts, and gift initiatives. In 1993 he served as chair of MetroWest’s Commission on Jewish Education and Identity, which gave a high priority to the issue of Jewish continuity.
A past president of the American Association of Jewish Education, he also served on the boards of national United Jewish Appeal, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (he chaired its Committee on the Former Soviet Union in 1993), and, locally, the Hebrew Free Loan Society, Jewish Community Foundation of MetroWest, the former YM-YWHA of Metropolitan New Jersey, and the former Jewish Education Association.
He led a national mission to Poland and Israel as well as local missions to Israel, Iran, and Morocco. He was also a member of the Lester Society, recognizing those who make endowment commitments of $100,000 or more to the annual UJA Campaign.
Upon selling his business over 30 years ago, Brody embraced Jewish philanthropy as a profession, and became executive director of planning and development at UJA-Federation of New York. From there moved to the Jerusalem Foundation, where, as president, he had the opportunity to work closely with Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s longtime mayor.
While at the New York federation, Brody supervised Stanley Stone, now executive director of the Greater MetroWest federation, for three years. Stone recalled, “The first thing that impressed me about Arthur was how he treated people. Everyone was accorded respect and dignity. He had a unique ability to combine his business acumen with his successful Jewish communal volunteer experiences. Having known him made me a better person and professional.”
Arthur and Jane Brody were most recently honored in 2009 at the 12th annual UJA Benefit Concert. He was also honored by New York University, The Hebrew University, and the former Jewish Historical Society of MetroWest. He was a 1960 recipient of the Julius and Bessie Cohen Young Leadership Award.
A lover of the arts and music, he was also a past trustee of the American Symphony Orchestra.
Max Kleinman, executive vice president/CEO of the Greater MetroWest federation, said that when he visited Brody recently, “he told me he had no regrets in his life. He was right because he accomplished so much.”
“He was one of the most extraordinary Jewish leaders ever to come out of New Jersey,” said Kleinman. “Arthur was an indefatigable fund-raiser. But that was only one side of him. He was one of the most multi-dimensional individuals I ever encountered. Yes, he was a doer — and raised many tens of millions of dollars — but he was also a talmudist — studying Gemara on a regular basis. Our community has suffered a great loss, and he will be missed dearly.”
Said GMW UJA Campaign chair Leslie Dannin Rosenthal: “I just cannot imagine starting a campaign without Arthur. Every year since I’ve been involved, Arthur has been there, fully engaged, full of advice, and I will miss him dearly. He was part of a generation of leadership that we have been lucky to have involved for so long.”
In addition to his wife, Jane, Arthur Brody is survived by his son Richard and his wife, Lauren; daughter Kathy Harkov and her husband, Ron; his sister Marion Soled; and grandchildren Ari Harkov, Gabriel Harkov, Alex Brody, Samantha Brody, and Matthew Brody. His brother Martin predeceased him.
Funeral services were held July 30 at Temple B’nai Abraham.