Stephen and Jonathan Vinnik: Honoring Their Father and Mother

When Stephen and Jonathan Vinnik wanted to expand the impact of the Dr. Irwin E. Vinnik Endowed Memorial Fellowship Fund at DU, they knew just what to do.

“There were two things,” said Stephen, the elder brother. “We wanted to promote the memory of our parents, whose legacy is deep in the Jewish communities of Denver and Colorado. And we also wanted to give people a feeling for the creativity that exists in Israeli and Jewish culture and traditions.”

And so, a few years after their mother, Sandra, died in 2014, the sons expanded their family’s endowment beyond its successful work over the years as a travel fellowship to supporting a new Dr. Irwin E. and Sandra Vinnik Evening of Jewish Culture. The inaugural event, held in February 2018, featured a talk with Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher and a screening of “Past Life,” in connection with Denver’s annual Jewish Film Festival.

“It’s very rewarding to continue to work with the Vinnik family to expand their parents’ legacy of Jewish learning and intercultural bridge-building,” said Sarah Pessin, professor of Philosophy and Judaic Studies and director of DU’s Center for Judaic Studies, which administers the award. “By providing more opportunities to learn about Jewish culture, the new program is a strong fit with our commitment to diversity and inclusion at DU, as well as the Center for Judaic Studies and Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.”

Younger brother Jonathan said, “Both of our parents were so public in their support—they volunteered, they attended events, they were very well respected. We want to give an event to the community that grows and attracts many, many people. More people will benefit, and every single event will be fascinating!”