Bernice Bricklin, a lifelong Philadelphia-area resident who raised a family of three daughters before going on to college, law school, and a career helping victims of domestic violence, died Saturday of complications related to COVID-19. She was 93.
Mrs. Bricklin was a tireless advocate for social justice and civic causes, and belonged to many organizations — from the National Women’s Political Caucus to the Freedom Valley Girl Scout Council, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Center for Empowerment of Women, and the Green Tree Run Condominium Association.
“She marched for the ERA and reproductive rights for women,” said her daughter Lila Bricklin. “Later, mom served as a Democratic committeeperson in the 21st Ward in Philadelphia during the 1990s. But I think her work as a draft counselor for conscientious objectors in 1968 had the most powerful impact on me when I was young.”
After raising her children, Mrs. Bricklin, then in her 40s, went to Beaver College, now Arcadia University, followed by Temple Law School. Lila Bricklin was in high school when her mother decided to go to college.
“As an attorney, she advocated for victims of domestic violence,” her daughter said. “My mom was the Betty Friedan of our family.”
Lila Bricklin said her mother “led by example.” She did not lay down edicts in the family.
“We watched,” her daughter said. “She sang in the choir at synagogue and she was on all these boards. I didn’t perceive it as something that she was drumming into our heads. ... That’s what we did.”
Mrs. Bricklin instilled in her daughters an understanding of Judaism’s connection to social justice and the broader community, as well as the importance of the Jewish home and rituals.
Mrs. Bricklin was deeply involved in politics, working as voter issues coordinator for Sam Katz during his 2003 mayoral campaign. She also was legal counsel for C. Dolores Tucker’s congressional campaign.
Children also attracted her attention. She was a board member of the Children’s Aid Society, served as volunteer administrator for the Fellowship Commission’s Summer Youth Employment Program, and taught reading at a Strawberry Mansion elementary school for the Citizen’s Committee for Public Education.
She was seemingly indefatigable.
“It’s like so much of who I am and who my sisters are is attributable to living this lifestyle of being involved and then knowing that it is our responsibility as Jews to give back,” said her daughter Lila.
Mrs. Bricklin is also survived by two other daughters, Shoshana and Aliza, and four grandchildren. A Zoom family funeral is scheduled for Monday. A Zoom shiva is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Donations in Mrs. Bricklin’s memory may be made to Democratic Georgia Senate candidates, Philadelphia NOW, and Hadassah Greater Philadelphia.