Why Be Jewish? – Continuing the Legacy of Edgar Bronfman

Thursday, April 20, 2017
7 PM at Temple Kol Ami map
Cost: $18 (Suggested Donation)

Registration for this event is now closed. Walks ups will be accepted.

Join Valley Beit Midrash for an insightful discussion on Edgar Bronfman’s last book, Why Be Jewish? with the book’s editor, Ruth Andrew Ellenson, and President of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, Adam R. Bronfman. Both are dedicated to continuing the legacy of Edgar Brofman and looking forward to sharing his story on April 20th at Temple Kol Ami.

7-7:30pm – networking and light appetizers
7:30-8:30pm – program

Cost: $18, suggested donation


WBJ Book--Book cover 3DCompleted in December 2013, just weeks before he passed away,Why Be Jewish? expresses Edgar Bronfman’s awe, respect, and deep love for his faith and heritage. Bronfman walks readers through the major tenets and ideas in Jewish life, fleshing out their meaning and offering proof texts from the Jewish tradition gleaned over his many years of study with some of the greatest teachers in the Jewish world.

With honesty, poignancy, and passion, Bronfman shares In Why Be Jewish? insights gleaned from his own personal journey and makes a compelling case for the meaning and transcendence of a secular Judaism that is still steeped in deep moral values, authentic Jewish texts, and a focus on deed over creed or dogma.


EMB portrait

Edgar M. Bronfman

Born in Montreal in 1929 and raised in a proudly Jewish home, Edgar M. Bronfman dedicated his life to Jewish causes. His love for the Jewish people informed his work at The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, named for his father, and dedicated to inspiring a vibrant and joyful Jewish future. Bronfman’s experience as the CEO of Seagram Company Ltd. for more than thirty years, informed his work as the Founding Chairman of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.

For many years, Bronfman served as the as President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), where he advocated for the release of the Prisoners of Zion from the USSR and convinced Pope John Paul II that the establishment of a Carmelite convent near Auschwitz would be an affront to Jews worldwide. In 1998, Mr. Bronfman succeeded in winning restitution for Holocaust victims whose assets had been held in Swiss banks. He had also served as President of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, which is devoted to the return of property and wealth owned by Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

For his philanthropic efforts, Bronfman was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor by President Bill Clinton in 1999. He held honorary doctoral degrees from various institutions of higher learning, including Tel Aviv University, McGill University and Williams College.



Ruth Andrew Ellenson

Ruth Andrew Ellenson is a writer and journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, People, Forward, Ha’aretz, and many other publications. She received the National Jewish Book Award for the national bestseller The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt (Penguin Random House), which was selected by Hadassah as a featured book club selection. The daughter of a rabbi and a Daughter of the American Revolution, Ellenson was born in Jerusalem and raised in New York and Los Angeles. She received her MFA from Columbia University. Ellenson’s recent editorial collaborations include Why Be Jewish? A Testament (Twelve) written with the late philanthropist Edgar M. Bronfman. Ellenson is a star speaker who has traveled internationally to address the complexities and joys of Jewish identity for women of all ages, and her book has become a favorite choice among reading groups for the intense and spirited discussions it provokes.


Adam R. Bronfman

Adam R. Bronfman

As President of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, Adam R. Bronfman is committed to furthering Edgar M. Bronfman’s vision of inspiring a vibrant and joyful Jewish future by working to build a knowledgeable, proud, and welcoming community. As a member of Hillel’s International Board of Governors, Adam has visited numerous Hillels in North America. He has been a catalyst behind the growth of Hillels internationally. He has served as an active board member at the Hillel of UC Santa Barbara and is a founder and advisory board member of Hillel for Utah.

Adam established the Saidye Rosner Bronfman Rabbinic Chair at Temple Har Shalom in Park City, Utah, and has been a driving force behind the growth of the community. As an alumnus and former trustee of the Taft School, Adam endowed several scholarships at the institution. He has also served in a leadership capacity at both the National Ability Center and People’s Health Clinic.

Adam is the Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Rickdiculous Racing along with his son, Josh Bronfman. He is the Executive Producer of the documentary Forward 13: Waking Up the American Dream. Adam and his wife, Cindy, have four children and live in Park City, Utah.

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