Edgar M. Bronfman Sr., ex-Seagram CEO, head of World Jewish Congress, dies

Edgar M. Bronfman Sr. devoted much of his life to advocating for Judaism and Jewish causes.

Story highlights

  • Edgar M. Bronfman Sr., who championed Jewish causes, dies at age 84
  • He led the Seagram Company, started by his father, for 23 years
  • He visited the Soviet Union in 1970 to advocate for Jews there
  • President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Edgar M. Bronfman Sr., a former Seagram executive and president of the World Jewish Congress for nearly 30 years, died in New York Saturday, according to a spokesman for his family's foundation. He was 84.
Bronfman died of natural causes, according to Jonathan Cohen, a spokesman for the family's Samuel Bronfman Foundation, named after his father, a wealthy liquor mogul. Edgar Bronfman was surrounded by family when he died, Cohen said.
Bronfman devoted much of his life to advocating for Judaism and Jewish causes. He traveled to the Soviet Union in 1970 to lobby for greater freedom for Jews living there and helped to win restitution for Holocaust victims from Swiss banks in 1997. President Bill Clinton awarded Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.
Bronfman also exposed the Nazi past of former Austrian President Kurt Waldheim.