Remembering Edgar Bronfman

Below is a collection of sponsored tributes in memory of Jewish philanthropist Edgar M. Bronfman, Sr. To be included in this page, email [email protected].

Edgar M. Bronfman, Sr., prominent Jewish philanthropist, died Dec. 21, 2013 at age 84.

Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel 


Our community of 1000+ young Jews from Israel and North America remembers our beloved founder, Edgar M. Bronfman. His love of Jewish learning and the Jewish people inspired him to establish The Bronfman Youth Fellowships in 1987. In his own words, he saw the Fellowships as an opportunity for young Jews “to deepen their understanding of the complexity of Judaism so that they can go forth into the world and have an educated, informed and impassioned impact on the Jewish future and the world.” Edgar placed enormous faith in the ability of young people to forge paths and create solutions that may have eluded previous generations.

The Fellowships is a direct reflection of Edgar’s values: open discourse so that people can see the world through a lens broader than their own, grounding Jewish identity in Jewish text, and making Jewish community inclusive. Edgar had the patience and foresight to realize that by cultivating a well-chosen batch of promising young people each year, the Bronfman Fellowships would grow to have an outsize impact, far beyond its numbers.
Edgar’s leadership touched us all. He brought Torah into our lives and made it possible for each of us to learn Torah from one another. May his memory be a blessing.

Personal tributes written by Bronfman alumni, their families, and faculty of the Fellowships can be found at:, Inc. mourns the loss of its founder, mentor, and dear friend, Edgar M. Bronfman. Edgar was a visionary leader who was deeply dedicated to advocating and advancing the Jewish community. He valued knowledge and intellectual discourse and strongly believed that you could only be a proud Jew if you continued to study and learn from our tradition. Edgar was highly attuned to the diverse needs of the Jewish community and strove to make Judaism relevant and available to everyone. He took great pride knowing that MJL was reaching close to a million people a month.  He understood the importance of having meaningful Jewish content accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, and empowering them to navigate Jewish life with confidence and creativity. Edgar will truly be missed, but his vision and spirit will always be with us. May his memory be a source of blessing and may his impact continue to be an inspiration to the world.

JFNA LogoThe Jewish Federations of North America 

The Jewish Federations of North America mourn the passing of Edgar M. Bronfman, z”l, a historic Jewish leader and philanthropist. He was deeply committed to the Jewish future and helped shape the Jewish world through his support for Hillel, Jewish camping, accessible Jewish learning and so much more.

As president of the World Jewish Congress, Bronfman campaigned tirelessly for the Jewish people, urging the Soviet Union to improve Jewish rights and emigration, prodding Swiss banks to release the stolen assets of Jews, and helping unearth the hidden Nazi past of former UN Secretary General and Austrian President Kurt Waldheim. He also passionately advocated for Jewish pluralism, and for encouraging young Jews to embrace their identity. At New York University, he helped establish the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life.

The passing of this visionary man is a huge loss for the Jewish people. May his memory be forever as a blessing and may his family and loved ones be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Michael Siegal, President, Board of Trustees

Jerry Silverman, President and CEO, The Jewish Federations of North America

Genesis Philanthropy Group

When Edgar Bronfman Sr. passed away this month, a blazing star burned out. Like Senator Frank Lautenberg, another member of this great generation of Jewish leaders who left this life in 2013, Mr. Bronfman committed himself to the survival of Soviet Jews, campaigning to bring them to Israel or the United States and helping recover billions of dollars in assets lost during the Holocaust. Mr. Bronfman was inspired by a deep understanding of the power of our common heritage, drawn in part from a trip to the former Soviet Union in 1970, where, as he later told JTA, he found himself wondering how Judaism had stayed alive through so much adversity.

For the answers to this most central question, as we consider future generations of global Jewry, we would be well advised to look to the choices Mr. Bronfman made in his 84 years. He promoted Jewish learning, built bridges between Jews in North America and Israel, and as Dana Raucher, executive director of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation named for his father, said, “was the first of his kind, a titan of industry that dedicated himself fully to advocating, advancing and encouraging the Jewish people.”

We all could do no better than to follow in this titan’s footsteps.

Stan Polovets
Chairman of the Board, The Genesis Prize Foundation

image001 (1)World ORT

The Officers, Board, and staff of World ORT mourn the tremendous loss of Edgar Bronfman. The dear friend and dedicated leader of the Jewish people, Edgar, has provided invaluable wisdom, and boundless dedication to some of the world’s largest Jewish organizations, impacting the lives of Jews around the world. As the longtime president of the World Jewish Congress, Edgar fought for the rights of Jews worldwide. For the past 30 years he also devoted his efforts to teens and college students connecting them to their Jewish heritage and to Israel. World ORT extends our deepest condolences to his wife, children, brother, sister and grandchildren. May his memory be for a blessing.

Dr. Jean de Gunzburg, World ORT President

Mauricio Merikanskas, Chairman of the Board of Trustees

Conrad Giles, Deputy President

Shmuel Sisso, Director General and CEO World ORT

CLSPN LogoCharles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network

We join in celebrating the life and mourning the passing of Edgar Bronfman, Sr., a visionary leader and philanthropist who we were fortunate to consider both a dear friend and partner.

Edgar was a towering figure who paved the way for many of us who shared his commitment to fostering a Jewish renaissance. He advocated for Jewish rights in the former Soviet Union, fought for reparations for Holocaust victims, supported leadership opportunities for young Jews and gave generously to countless efforts that benefitted Judaism and Israel.

We were proud to partner with Edgar and his professional team at The Samuel Bronfman Foundation on many important initiatives, from STAR to Hillel and beyond, and we have fond memories of our global work together. In particular we remember our trip in the early 2000’s to join Jewish students in Buenos Aires to mark the opening of the first of four Hillels in Argentina. It captured perfectly Edgar’s deep belief in the importance and centrality of young adults to ensuring a vibrant Jewish future.

Edgar’s passing is a tremendous loss. We are fortunate that his legacy and impact will continue to shape Jewish life and learning for generations to come.

May his memory be a blessing.

Lynn Schusterman, Sandy Cardin and the entire Schusterman team

partnership logo rgbThe Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life

While working at Hillel, I was privileged to be with Edgar Bronfman on a few occasions when he met with like-minded people discussing the challenges and opportunities of modern times when all Jews are Jews by choice and face so many competing and compelling beliefs and lifestyles. He acknowledged these difficult, trying and often frustrating circumstances and summarized his perspective in three words. “Hope, not fear.” These three words and his magnificent optimism in our future carry me in my work here at The Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life. I try to impart this sense of optimism to our professional and volunteer leaders; I hope I succeed. I know he did.

Robert Lichtman
Executive Director

Wexner FoundationThe Wexner Foundation

Together with the global Jewish community, The Wexner Foundation mourns the death of Edgar Bronfman, zichrono livracha, of blessed memory.

Edgar was a rare and wise leader, a giant in the field of Jewish philanthropy as he was in business. He was a treasured colleague and friend to our chairmen, Abigail and Leslie Wexner.
Edgar and Les shared a long-time and enduring commitment to Jewish pluralism, Jewish learning and to supporting Jewish leaders. Edgar Bronfman’s legacy shall endure in the vast community he has inspired and influenced.

May Edgar’s family be comforted among all who mourn in Zion and Jerusalem.

Rabbi B. Elka Abrahamson, President

The Foundation for Jewish Camp 

The Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) family is deeply saddened by the loss of Edgar M. Bronfman z”l, beloved friend, founding trustee, and dedicated supporter of Jewish camp. The field of Jewish camp and the Jewish community at large have lost a strong advocate, visionary, and confidant.

Edgar was very proud of the work FJC accomplishes and believed very deeply in the power of camp to transmit positive Jewish experiences.  Rob and Elisa Spungen Bildner, co-founders of FJC remember:

“In the late ’90s, when we were trying to get the attention of Jewish philanthropists to fund Jewish camp, it was he who said ‘”hineni“-here I am. We had approached many, arguing that one of the best ways to inculcate a love for Judaism in Jewish kids was through Jewish camp. Edgar was FJC’s first trustee, and even more importantly, began touting the virtues of creating an affinity for Judaism through this powerful immersive experience. He was more than a philanthropic hero to FJC, and this is how we will remember him: He was a mentsch, he was our mentor, and our friend.”

Our thoughts are with the Bronfman family, the professional staff of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, and the wide network of his many friends throughout the world.  May his memory be a blessing.

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations leaders, Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO, mourn the passing of Edgar Bronfman Sr. whose dedication and devotion to the Jewish people, especially the younger generation, left a lasting mark. Edgar led the World Jewish Congress as President for more than two decades during which time he engaged in a broad range of diplomatic initiatives addressing a variety of critical challenges from Soviet Jewry to securing reparations funding. His devoted leadership as chair of the Board of Directors of Hillel and the Bronfman Youth Fellowship, which he founded, reflect his commitment to assuring the involvement of young Jews. Edgar also served as president of the Samuel Bronfman Fund which contributed to many Jewish causes.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, and in particular to our dear friend Mathew Bronfman, who carries on his father’s commitment to Jewish service and continuity.

Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman

Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman

Limmud FSULimmud FSU

Limmud FSU mourns the passing of Edgar Bronfman, a great leader of the Jewish People over the past decades.

Edgar Bronfman, who died at the age of 84, was a giant among men in general and a giant in contemporary Jewish history in particular. His life work, to say nothing of his philanthropic activities, had an impact on many hundreds of thousands of Jews worldwide.

Edgar’s son, Matthew Bronfman, is the Chairman of the International Steering Committee of Limmud FSU, which helps to instill Jewish identity in thousands of Russian-speaking Jews in the Former Soviet Union and around the globe.

Bronfman’s efforts on behalf of the Jewish people worldwide as president of the World Jewish Congress, a position he assumed in 1979 and held until he resigned in 2007, are well-known and embrace many aspects of modern Jewish life, from social rights, welfare and education, to anti-Semitism, the unmasking of the Nazi past of the Austrian President, Kurt Waldheim, and above all, negotiating for the restitution of property stolen from Jews during the Nazi era and the release of funds held for decades by Swiss banks, to Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

“Edgar Bronfman dealt with many issues of concern to modern Jewish life, but he will be best remembered by us for his significant role in helping to liberate Soviet Jewry. We will all cherish his legacy and memory,” said Chaim Chesler and Sandy Cahn, founder and co- founder of Limmud FSU.

ipfThe Israel Policy Forum

The Israel Policy Forum (IPF) mourns the passing of Edgar M. Bronfman, a monumental leader of the Jewish community and brother of Charles R. Bronfman, IPF board member. Edgar’s commitment to a strong Jewish future has influenced so many of us at IPF, and for that, we are forever grateful. IPF extends our deepest condolences to the Bronfman family. May his legacy continue to be an inspiration, and his memory a blessing.

Peter A. Joseph, Chairman

David A. Halperin, Executive Director

Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute

Some people are known for their wisdom. Others are known for their actions. Edgar Bronfman was known for both. Almost as often as we would meet, he would remind me that we are all responsible to leave the world a better place than when we entered it. He indeed lived what he preached. He became a spokesperson for groups on whose behalf we advocated, particularly the unengaged, as well those who had intermarried. Moreover, he believed fiercely in value constructs like an inclusive Jewish community, the foundation of which became Big Tent Judaism.

The individuals and families we serve benefited greatly from his philanthropic generosity, but also from his generosity of spirit. He will be greatly missed by all who had the opportunity to know him and by those who never knew him but were greatly affected by his benevolence.

Dr. Kerry M Olitzky, Executive Director