William Breman Biography

Bill Breman — a man whose lifetime of leadership and distinguished achievements on both the local community and national levels continue to be an inspiration to all who knew him.

In 1990, with a desire to associate his name with something substantial, historical and permanent to benefit both the Jewish and general communities, Bill Breman gave generously to the Atlanta Jewish Federation (now the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta) to create a Jewish heritage museum. His vision and his dream became a reality when The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum opened its doors at the Selig Center in June 1996.

You will find a portrait of our founder, Bill Breman, in the lobby area of the Museum. If you look carefully in the exhibition Creating Community: The Jews of Atlanta from 1845 to the Present, you will also see a photograph of the three-year old Bill on his tricycle in 1911 near the tricycle itself. As a pillar of the community, Bill was also invited to make a casting of his hand. It can be found as part of the glass sculpture in the lobby.

Bill was a truly gentle and generous man, described by Melissa Faye Greene in her book The Temple Bombing, as a "…jaunty, patrician-looking man with bushy gray sideburns…" He would visit the Museum regularly, often bringing with him a carload of residents from the Louis Kahn Group Home for an outing.

Bill Breman was born on March 13, 1908, in Philadelphia. When he was five years old, the family moved to Atlanta, where they remained until Bill was 15, at which time they moved to Asheville, North Carolina. He was graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1929.

Bill and Sylvia Breman with their

Bill and Sylvia Breman with their
daughter, Carol.

Bill returned to Atlanta and married Sylvia Goldstein of Rochester, New York, in 1934. The couple had two children, Carol Breman Nemo and James Breman, and seven grandchildren.

Bill retired from his business, Breman Steel Company, in 1979.

Following his first wife's long illness and death in 1993, Bill married Elinor Angel Rosenberg. Elinor has been an ardent supporter and an active participant in the development and progress of the Museum from its beginnings. In honor of Bill's 90th birthday, Elinor made a gift of a Steinway piano to the Museum, ensuring that music would be incorporated into the Museum's programming.

Bill received numerous humanitarian and human relations awards for the extensive community service work that he did, including the Distinguished Service Award of the Gate City Lodge of B'nai B'rith (1965); the American Jewish Committee Human Relations Award (1981) and the Abe Goldstein Humanitarian Award of the Anti-Defamation League (1984). He served as president of The Temple and The Jewish Home, now called The William Breman Jewish Home.

Bill, receiving an award for

Bill, receiving an award for
community service, Atlanta.

Bill was a life member of the following boards: American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, The Temple, The William Breman Jewish Home and The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum. In 2000, he was honored by the Federation with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Bremans endowed The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, the religious school of The Temple, the Sylvia Breman Library at The Davis Academy, The William Breman Jewish Home, and the Sylvia Breman Auditorium at The Selig Center.

Before his death on December 13, 2000, three months to the day shy of his 93rd birthday, Bill and Elinor attended nearly every museum event and valued time with their combined families – 5 children, 13 grand-children and 3 great-grandchildren.


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Bill Breman portrait.

Bill Breman.


Bill & Elinor Breman, at the opening of The Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum in 1996.

Bill & Elinor Breman, at the opening of The Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum in 1996.


Bill, with his grandchildren and

Bill, with his grandchildren and
their spouses, at the museum on his 90th birthday.