Alan Bachman: Las Vegas’ Jewish Hero
By Danica Torchin
The Jewish people have a long history of challenges and struggles. We continue to survive through oppression, genocide and anti-semitism. As kids, we read about superheroes who swoop in to save the day and fight the bad guy, but Jewish heroes, are not like regular heroes. Seldom do you find a Jewish hero single-handedly fighting off evil. Jewish heroes ask for help and support from the whole community. This narrative is prevalent in stories we tell children of brave individuals starting revolutions to protect their religious freedoms and build the Jewish community. In the Las Vegas Jewish community, we have Alan Bachman, who saw that our Jewish Community Center needed a permanent home. That’s why he presented a substantial and lifetime donation for a location to ensure the J’s continuity so there will always be a place for the Jewish community to call home in our city. Now, he’s looking for support from the community to keep Jewish programs and Jewish learning alive.
While Alan has spent the more recent years of his life surrounded by Las Vegas’ Jewish community, his was the only Jewish family in the small town outside of Philadelphia where he was raised. His father passed away very young, but instilled in Alan the importance of keeping his Jewish spark alive. “My father was a good man,” Alan says, “He set a good example and we would drive from where we lived to the synagogue in Philadelphia. It was a long ride, but we never missed the important dates.”
After his father’s passing, he continued his Jewish learning by attending Hebrew school lessons and honoring the Jewish traditions in which he was taught. He served in the Army for 3 years after World War II in Germany, and then came back to the States, where he met his wife of 36 years, Judy. Judy, he says, was the reason for his involvement in the Las Vegas Jewish community. As soon as they moved here in 2000, she became a very active volunteer in many Jewish organizations, from the Jewish National Fund to the Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation and of course, the J. She remained an avid mahjong player and staple in these organizations until her death in July 2014. When Alan was funding the J’s location, he only had one request: name the suite in memory of Judy.
Lawrence Davis describes his friend Alan as a humble man, and added, “As a philanthropist, he is probably one of the top ten givers in the community.” In addition to perpetually funding the Judy Bachman Memorial Suite also known as The J, he also funded the Bachman Young Adult Delegation to Ramat HaNegev, Israel. Ramat HaNegev is Jewish Nevada’s partner community, and the trip exists to promote strong connections between young Israeli and Jewish-American delegates who spend 10 days in Ramat HaNegev learning about culture, community and leadership. Alan was quick to fund this program because he‘s trying to do the best he can to “make a stronger place in the world for Jewish people.”
At 85 years young, Alan remains hopeful for the future of this community. “A famous man once said there’s strength in numbers,” Alan says, “There are a lot of good Jews here, we just have to pull the community together and get them involved.” Alan says one day he hopes for there to be a stand-alone facility for the J to act as a larger home for the Jewish people in Las Vegas. Alan has given so generously and knows that every donated dollar helps build and strengthen this Jewish home.
That is exactly what the Jewish Community Center is for many Jewish residents in Las Vegas: a home. The J is home to Camp K’helah, a summer camp that showcases Jewish culture, leadership and tradition to children in Las Vegas. The J is home to PJ Library, a program that gives free books to Jewish children and their families. The J is home to all three chapters of BBYO, the largest youth-led movement in the world. The J is home to original programs like Jewish University, News & Schmooze and mahjong. The J is even home to a Girl Scouts troop and a Shalom Baby program.
Traditions are created because people pass down knowledge and culture from generation to generation. In Judaism, the concept of L’dor Vador is no different. Parents share their traditions with their children and someday their children will share it with their children. Community centers like the J bring us together, but L’dor Vador is what keeps the Jewish people strong in faith and community. Alan Bachman is the hero in our community who is helping to create programs and events that will shape the lives of Jews for years to come. Thank you, Alan, for keeping the Jewish community alive and for working to ensure that our grandchildren have a space to practice their Judaism freely for many, many years.