Edgar M. Bronfman (1929-2013) was the grandson of Jewish immigrants from Russia who came to North America to seek a better life. Born in Montreal in 1929 and raised in a proudly Jewish home, Mr. Bronfman was always active in Jewish causes, from the days of the founding of the State of Israel to his work securing reparations for Holocaust survivors and their families. He did not begin his own personal Jewish journey, however, until he was 60 years old and working on behalf of Russian Jewry in the former Soviet Union.
Mr. Bronfman was the former CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd. He also served until 2007 as President of the World Jewish Congress, which he ran for over 20 years, and he was Founding Chairman of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Mr. Bronfman founded BYFI in 1987 as a project of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, of which he remained President until his death in 2013. The Foundation's work continues to reflect Mr. Bronfman's love for the Jewish people and his commitment to inspiring future generations to bring about a Renaissance of Jewish life.
Mr. Bronfman's long-term vision for BYFI was to educate an interdenominational cadre of young Jews who would see their commitments to Judaism and the Jewish people through a lens broader than their own perspective. He hoped to inspire a value system in a young group of future leaders by providing a forum in which they can speak to one another in a substantively Jewish way.