Billionaire Edgar Miles Bronfman Sr., who lobbied the Soviets to allow Jews to emigrate and helped spearhead the search for hidden Nazi loot, died Saturday at the age of 84.
The longtime president of the World Jewish Congress died at his New York home surrounded by family, according to the family charity he led, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation.
Edgar Bronfman 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 Edgar Bronfman’s leadership, Seagram expanded its offerings and was eventually acquired by French media and telecom group Vivendi Universal in 2000.
His 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.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton awarded Edgar Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In the citation, Edgar Bronfman was heralded for working “to ensure basic rights for Jews around the world”.