Edgar M. Bronfman


President's Medal for Excellence (1997)
Hillel Mortgage Retirement Dinner
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Myles Brand


Edgar M. Bronfman is the son of Samuel Bronfman, the founder of Distillers Corporation Limited, who purchased Seagram's in 1928. After graduating from Williams College with a B.A. degree in 1950, he took over as head of Seagram's American subsidiary. He increased the range of products sold by the company, improved distribution, and expanded the number of countries that sold Seagram's products. Following his father's death in 1971, Bronfman took over as president, treasurer, and director of Distillers Corporation-Seagrams Ltd.

In 1981, Bronfman was elected president of the World Jewish Congress, the federation of Jewish communities outside of Israel. He is also a philanthropist who has given large amounts of money to Jewish causes, including Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, which he is credited with helping revive together with Hillel President Richard Joel in the 1990s. Indiana University was the 30th campus in the country Joel and Bronfman visited during their trip to encourage participation in Jewish life in 1997. At the "Talking 'bout my generation" luncheon, which was attended by 85 students, Joel encouraged students to become involved with Judaism. Edgar M. Bronfman is also the President of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation whose work is informed by these four principles: "Jewish renaissance is grounded in Jewish learning; Jewish youth shape the future of the Jewish people; vibrant Jewish communities are open and inclusive; and that all Jews are a single family."

During Bronfman's visit to IU in 1997, President Myles Brand awarded him the President's Medal of Excellence.Bronfman was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President Bill Clinton in August 1999, the Star of People's Friendship by East German leader Erich Honecker in October 1988, and he received the Leo Baeck Medal for his humanitarian work promoting tolerance and social justice in 2000.

He died in 2013.