Born to a life of luxury, with admittedly little knowledge of Judaism growing up, Edgar Bronfman could have achieved success and adulation simply as the successor to his father, Samuel Bronfman, chairman of Seagram Ltd. The fact that in addition he became increasingly interested and involved in Jewish life as an adult — not only as president of the World Jewish Congress but as a student of Jewish text and issues — is a tribute to his capacity to both lead and learn.
Rabbi David Ellenson remembers the legendary philanthropist whose eye was trained on the future.
By Rabbi David Ellenson
Special To The Jewish Week
Story Includes Video:
Many will surely speak of Edgar Bronfman and his legacy — and deservedly so. I will leave it to others to describe his extraordinarily privileged background, his many achievements in the realm of business and commerce, and his manifold philanthropic works. Each area of his exceptional life is worthy of a full-scale treatise, and I have no doubt that a complete academic biography of the man will soon emerge — the temptation for an academic or graduate student to describe the history of Jewish life in our day through an exploration of this one man’s life is surely irresistible.
An internal dispute among the top leaders of the World Jewish Congress centered on power, personality and politics is threatening to implode the venerable organization amid calls for resignations and threats of lawsuits.
Are well-known presidents of major Jewish organizations ever free to speak out as private citizens on controversial issues concerning Israel?
That was the question being debated this week after Edgar N. Bronfman, Sr., president of the World Jewish Congress, wrote to President George W. Bush expressing his views on the peace process. His letter was co-signed by former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger.
Bronfman and Eagleburger called on Bush to continue to "urge both sides to take the necessary steps to create stability and momentum in the peace process."
Ron Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), called upon Hillary Clinton to present the organization’s second annual Theodor Herzl Award to Marion and Elie Wiesel last month at the Waldorf-Astoria.
“We have come to know Hillary Clinton as our former First Lady, former United States Senator, and former Secretary of State and our future…”
Lauder didn’t have to finish.
Clinton recalled a lecture Wiesel gave at the White House on the eve of a new millennium. “He emphasized that indifference is more dangerous than anger and hatred,” she said.
WJC head Lauder demands an accounting about handling of fraud case; cover-up alleged.
Who knew what, and when?
Those are the questions critics are asking following the disclosure that the Claims Conference received an anonymous letter in 2001 identifying several fraudulent Holocaust-era restitution claims — nearly a decade before the organization halted a massive fraud scheme.
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