Lenora Pate: A gift to the Jewish community, Israel

by Richard Friedman

Dynamic community leader, gifted attorney and beloved friend of the Birmingham Jewish community Lenora Pate died June 23 after struggling with illness.

Lenora, a devout Christian, was married to Steven Brickman, a longtime Jewish community volunteer leader. They were partners in every facet of their civic, philanthropic and professional lives, with both of them working at the law firm of Sirote & Permutt, now Dentons Sirote, for nearly 40 years.

Lenora served as chair of the firm’s health care practice group and was constantly recognized as one of the state’s outstanding attorneys.  Her record of civic and legal achievements is lengthy and reflects decades of leadership.

“She was the kindest, most gifted and most unique person I have ever known,” said Steven, reflecting on her passing. “She made me a better person and inspired me every single day of our marriage.”

Along with her dedication to her faith and the many important roles that she played in the Christian community, Lenora was a towering friend of the Birmingham Jewish community and an ardent defender of Israel.

She supported the Jewish community with passion and distinction; co-chairing a fundraising campaign to help the Israeli people respond to terror, becoming the first Christian to serve on the Birmingham Jewish Federation’s board of directors, visiting Israel multiple times, and participating in programs and giving generously to Jewish community causes.

She was a pioneer in the area of Jewish-Christian relations, and was a leader in deepening ties and promoting alliances between the two communities.

Role Model

Her leadership helped motivate the state of Alabama to adopt one of the strongest anti-BDS measures in the nation. BDS — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — is an antisemitic movement designed to weaken and isolate the world’s only majority-Jewish country.

Lenora was a deeply intelligent person and a role model for female lawyers throughout the city.

She was capable of conversing knowledgeably about countless topics, and was always graceful and gracious. She had a contagious spirit and a powerful way of uplifting people.

Yet despite her vast accomplishments, she radiated humility, drawing people to her with a warm smile, genuineness and an open heart.

A Birmingham-born schoolteacher turned attorney, she never held back. She ran for governor, served as a state of Alabama cabinet official, and was known as a “doer” who, when it came to causes she believed in, could move mountains.

Behind the “public Lenora,” was a loving wife, devoted mother and doting grandmother. She was fun, funny and someone with whom it was a pleasure to be with.

The state of Alabama, which benefitted from her many civic endeavors, will miss this unique servant leader as will the Christian and Jewish communities, Lenora’s family and her many friends.

To be her friend was to have your life enriched. May her memory be for a blessing.

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