Edward Bronfman, Chairman of The Seagram Company, philanthropist and billionaire has died in his New York home on Saturday, Dec 21, at age 84.
Bronfman, the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, died of natural causes the Samuel Bronfman Foundation said.
He served as president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) between 1979 and 2007 and acquired more than $1.0 billion for Holocaust victims and their heirs. The WJC also lobbied the Soviets to allow Jews to emigrate and helped spearhead the search for hidden Nazi loot.
“What we have to do is write the last chapter,” Bronfman told Reuters in a 1996 interview to promote his book, “The Making of a Jew”.
Bronfman “was an ardent campaigner against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism” who “advocated for a better understanding between different faiths and peoples,” said WJC President Ronald Lauder.
For decades “Edgar was Diaspora Jewry’s undisputed leader. He was a household name wherever he went,” Lauder said in a statement.
Bronfman was the son of Samuel Bronfman, a Jew who fled the pogroms of eastern Europe to Canada and made a fortune producing liquor at distilleries across the border during the US prohibition era.
Israeli President Shimon Peres stated his sadness of a great Jewish leader, in a letter to Bronfman’s family.
“It is with a heavy heart that I received the news of Edgar’s passing, and with his death I have lost a dear friend of many years and the Jewish world has lost a great leader,” Peres said.
Bronfman became president of Seagram in 1989 and chief executive in 1994. Seagram’s is a large corporation headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada that was the largest distiller of alcoholic beverages in the world.
Edward Bronfman was married 5 times, and made headline news when his son Samuel was kidnapped. He delivered the $2 million dollar ransom himself to ensure his sons safe return. The kidnappers were caught and convicted.
He is survived by his current wife, Ms. Jan Aronson; his sons, Samuel, Edgar Jr., Matthew and Adam, and his daughter Holly Bronfman Lev, all from his first marriage; His 3rd and 4th marriage to Ms. Webb produced his daughters Sara Igtet and Clare Bronfman. He also leaves behind his brother, Charles; his sister Phyllis Lambert; 24 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
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