Eckstein Gift Enhances Breman Sunday Programs
Arts & CultureCommunity

Eckstein Gift Enhances Breman Sunday Programs

Significant bequest by Marilyn Eckstein allows Jewish life museum to add more museum programs and encourage greater community participation.

Stephen Sondheim’s music was featured in a Sunday program by The Voices of Note.
Stephen Sondheim’s music was featured in a Sunday program by The Voices of Note.

Sunday afternoons have gotten more interesting at  in Midtown during the past several months. The facility, which is a popular weekend family attraction, has added several outstanding arts and music programs in the building it shares with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

The weekend programs, called “Something Special Sundays,” includes free admission to the museum as well as the cultural programs thanks to a gift from Marilyn Ginsberg Eckstein. So far this year, The Breman has welcomed performances by Emory University’s resident ensemble, the Vega String Quartet, a program about Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim by The Voices of Note, a discussion of the work of ballet great Mikhail Baryshnikov, and a collage art workshop based on the current exhibit of “The Portrait Unbound,” including 14 visual biographies from the work of photographer Robert Weingarden.

For Leslie Gordon, who ran Georgia State University’s 800-seat Rialto Theatre before coming to The Breman in 2019, the proliferation of live performance, with such a talented lineup, is almost like a return to a previous life. Still, she is quick to credit the growth of all this good fortune to Eckstein’s largesse.

“One of the things that’s been so important to us here is to bring more people into the space, into our world, if you will. So, the idea was to come up with something that would draw new crowds in as well as show off what we have to offer.

Marilyn Ginsberg Eckstein has made major programming gifts to The Breman Museum and Ahavath Achim Synagogue.

“Something Special Sundays” by Marilyn Ginsberg Eckstein was an idea that was pitched to her that really, really resonated with her. It’s allowing us to do expansive programing.”

Support for this ambitious season comes from a $1.5 million grant by Atlanta music lover and philanthropist, Marilyn Ginsberg Eckstein, who has been a longtime trustee of the museum. Last year, she also gave a $1 million bequest to Ahavath Achim Synagogue, the Conservative congregation where she has been a lifetime member. It is also being used to support and expand the synagogue’s public music performances and arts programming.

The gift to The Breman and the one to her synagogue last year according to Eckstein, had a simple goal.

“I wanted to leave a legacy,” she said. And hopefully it will keep going on into the future and I’ll bring happiness to people.”

The Eckstein-sponsored events are in addition to the Molly Blank Concert Series, which returned to the museum after a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic. The three-concert series is named in memory of the mother of Arthur Blank, the philanthropist and owner of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United professional teams. Highlighting this year’s season was an extraordinary concert featuring Atlanta jazz pianist Joe Alterman and one of his jazz heroes, saxophonist Houston Persons.

The Vega String Quartet, which is a resident ensemble at Emory University, has been a part of the “Something Special Sundays” at The Breman.

The expanded programs’ offerings, according to Breman director Gordon, has given the museum the ability to develop a new audience.

“There’s a lot of variety here. And Marilyn Eckstein’s gift allows us to do many events as a free program or at a reduced rate. So, she allows us to do things that are very much on mission but will give that extra space that’ll get people through the door.”

Eckstein is not the first person in her family to make a significant gift to future Breman’s programs. Her maternal uncles, Max and Joe Cuba, were central figures in Jewish philanthropy beginning in the 1930s and through the important post-war growth years of Atlanta’s Jewish community. The Breman’s rich collection of archival materials, the largest such collection in the Southeast, is named in their honor.

The Max Cuba Social Services Center at Jewish Family & Career Services is another important gift. He was an Atlanta City councilman who left his imprint on almost every major Jewish institution in the city.

Eckstein’s father, Paul Ginsberg, was a highly successful trial attorney in Atlanta, a decorated hero during World War II and, in the post-war years — the national commander of the Jewish War Veterans of America.

Eckstein has also been a prominent contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Foundation. Several years ago, she also donated the funds to rebuild the lobby of one of the buildings on the Jewish HomeLife campus on Howell Mill Road. As a result of her gift last year to the organization’s home health initiative, it has been renamed Eckstein Home Care in her honor.

In describing what motivates her generosity, she recalls the words of the 16th century English poet, John Donne.

“One of his writings has always stuck with me,” Eckstein said, “It is about being a part of each person I have met as well as they are a part of me. In his famous poem, Donne said, ‘No man is an island because I am involved in all mankind.’”

read more: