Wednesday, April 23rd8.7°C
21104
20972

Edgar Bronfman Sr., Seagram Co. billionaire, longtime head of World Jewish Congress, dies

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Edgar M. Bronfman Sr., the Canadian-born billionaire and longtime president of the World Jewish Congress, which lobbied the Soviets to allow Jews to emigrate and helped spearhead the search for hidden Nazi loot, died Saturday. He was 84.

Bronfman died at his New York home surrounded by family, according to the family charity he led, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation.

Bronfman was born in Montreal in 1929 and made his fortune with his family's Seagram's liquor empire, taking over as chairman and CEO in 1971 and continuing the work of his father, Samuel. Under Bronfman's leadership, Seagram expanded its offerings and was eventually acquired by French media and telecom group Vivendi Universal in 2000.

But Bronfman's wealth, combined with his role in the World Jewish Congress, an umbrella group of Jewish organizations in some 80 countries that he led for more than a quarter century, allowed him to be a tireless advocate for his fellow Jews.

"He was the first of his kind, a titan of industry that dedicated himself fully to advocating, advancing and encouraging the Jewish people," said Dana Raucher, executive director of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation.

He became a U.S. citizen in 1959 and in 1999, President Bill Clinton awarded Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honour. In the citation, Bronfman was heralded for working "to ensure basic rights for Jews around the world."

In a 1986 Associated Press profile, he said his position and money helped him have access to world leaders.

"It's a combination of the two," Bronfman said. "In the end, it doesn't really matter why that access is available, as long as it is there."

The year before, he had become the first congress president to meet with Soviet officials in Moscow, bringing his case for human rights and taking a little time to promote Seagram's interests. He visited again in 1988, by which time Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union, a key goal of the congress, had begun to rise under the reforming leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the congress also helped lead the effort to gain $11 billion in restitution for heirs of Holocaust victims.

Jews in German and Nazi-held countries were stripped of their possessions, their artworks and even the gold fillings from their teeth in the regime's death camps. Much of the gold wound up in Swiss banks, and the institutions came under heavy criticism decades after the war ended for failing to make adequate reparations.

In 1975, the Bronfman family made the news for a far different reason when one of Edgar Bronfman's sons, 21-year-old Samuel 2nd, was abducted in a New York suburb.

The family paid a $2.3 million ransom and Samuel was later found when authorities raided a Brooklyn apartment. The missing money was found under a bed and two men were arrested.

The two were convicted of extortion, but acquitted of kidnapping, in a sensational 1976 trial in which the defence accused Samuel Bronfman of staging his own kidnapping as a hoax intended to cheat his father out of the ransom money. Samuel Bronfman denied the allegation and the prosecution called it "ridiculous."

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News

21336


Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14581.82+25.851
S&P CDNX1007.913.03
DJIA16497.99-16.38
Nasdaq4129.96-31.498
S&P 5001876.08-3.47
CDN Dollar0.9063-0.0005
Gold1284.00+3.40
Oil102.15-2.22
Lumber332.10-3.20
Natural Gas4.761+0.022

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.10-0.005
Knighthawk0.01-0.005
QHR Technologies Inc1.23+0.02
Cantex0.05+0.005
Anavex Life Sciences0.38-0.005
Metalex Ventures0.080.00
Russel Metals31.39+0.22
Copper Mountain Mining2.32-0.06
Colorado Resources0.265+0.005
ReliaBrand Inc0.11+0.03
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.025-0.005
Mission Ready Services0.26+0.01

 



21100

FEATURED Property
17880205186 MacNeil Court
3 bedrooms 3 baths
$565,000
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


On living and dying

Our ability to live beyond our years has nothing to do with medical science; we will all live longer than our physical bodies, each of us will leave behind a personal legacy made up of our deeds, our ...


Learning to flirt with the edge

With all of the adventure activities I have done and still do, I wonder sometimes if the edge still exists. The systematic approach to learning a new adventure or extreme activity combined with the r...


Time spent prospecting

How much time should you put into prospecting? The question is a bit of a puzzle. Ideally, there would be a reference book that lists, by industry, how much time you should invest in prospecting acti...

_








Member of BC Press Council