Dignitaries and politicians from America and Israel gathered together last week to honor Edgar Bronfman, the Jewish millionaire and longtime president of the World Jewish Congress who died in December at age 84.
Speaking at the public memorial in New York City on Tuesday, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Bronfman was a world-class leader who made friends around the world.
“He exuded a confidence and honesty that won him the friendship and support of presidents and popes and people everywhere,” Clinton said. Clinton told the memorial that back in 1996 she arranged a meeting between her husband President Bill Clinton and Bronfman, which would led to many years of work together negotiating the return of Jewish assets lost during the Holocaust.
The Canadian-born liquor mogul, who inherited his family’s Seagram’s fortune, eventually secured a settlement worth over $1 billion from Swiss banks in the 90s, reports Tablet Magazine. President Clinton awarded Bronfman the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.
“Bill and I both believed in Edgar and his cause,” Clinton sad. “He was never shy of pressing an issue in the face of injustice.”
Over one thousand people attended the event held at Lincoln Center, reports the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). Other speakers included Bronfman’s sons Samuel Bronfman II, Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Matthew Bronfman, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation executive director Dana Raucher as well as Congregation Beth Elohim religious leader Andy Bachman.
His sons spoke of their father’s experiences as the president of the WJC, his passion and business acumen as well as his efforts to obtain restitution for Holocaust victims.
Israeli President Shimon Peres, now 90 years old, sent a video that was played at the service.
“He was a born leader, yet he was a man of deep convictions,” Peres said in the recording.