Edgar Miles Bronfman (1929-2013) was born in Montreal to the Bronfman family (of Seagram fame), the eldest son of Samuel Bronfman and brother of Birthright co-founder Charles Bronfman. He was raised in a religious, kosher home, graduated from McGill University, and in 1957 took over the company’s American subsidiary. He greatly expanded its American business, and broadened the company internationally, too. When film-production company MGM bought into Seagram, Bronfman briefly served as MGM’s chairman. Having participated in the World Jewish Congress for several years, in 1981 he was officially elected as its new president, and used his skills to make the organization among the most important and influential in the Jewish world. Bronfman led many delegations to Moscow in a successful campaign to free Soviet Jews. He also exposed the hidden Nazi past of some notable figures, and brought greater compensation for Holocaust victims, particularly from Swiss banks. In 1982, he became the first leader of a Jewish organization to speak before the United Nations. He stepped down as president in 2007, and focused more of his efforts on philanthropy. He took on Bill & Melinda Gates’ Giving Pledge, a promise to donate the majority of one’s wealth to charity. Among many other awards, Edgar Bronfman Sr. received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton, and a French Legion of Honour. He also published several books, including The Bronfman Haggadah. Sadly, Bronfman past away on December 21st.
Words of the Week
When a day passes one should know what he has accomplished and what remains yet to be done… In general, one should always see to it that tomorrow should be much better than today.” – The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Hayom Yom, Iyar 1)
Estée Mentzer (1908-2004) was born in Queens to Hungarian-Jewish immigrants. She took an early interest in her chemist uncle’s nascent beauty products business. Soon after high school, she began selling some of his concoctions and found success. After marrying Joseph Lauder, the two opened their own cosmetics company and Esther quickly became famous for her ingenious marketing strategies. In 1953 she created a new fragrance – “Youth Dew” – which sold 50,000 bottles that year. By 1984, it sold 150 million. No wonder she was the only woman named to TIME’s list of 20th century business geniuses. She also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her son Ronald Lauder is a fervent activist for Israel and Jewish causes worldwide. In 2007, he was elected president of the World Jewish Congress. For these reasons, Estée Lauder is frequently the focus of anti-Israel boycott groups. Little to these groups know that Estée Lauder encompasses 27 brands including Clinique, Aveda and MAC. Words of wisdom from Esther: “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell hard.” She wasn’t just talking about beauty products.
Words of the Week
King David said, “Seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalms 34:15) This means: Seek peace for your friends, and pursue it among your enemies; seek peace where you dwell, and pursue it in all other places; seek peace with your body and pursue it with your all your resources; seek peace for yourself and pursue it for others; seek peace today, and pursue it for tomorrow. – Sefer Ma’alot HaMiddot