Why I Signed The Giving Pledge

By Edgar M. Bronfman, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation

I was recently asked to sign the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge and I was happy to do so. In my statement on the Giving Pledge website, I speak about my choice to engage in philanthropy, and in particular why I choose to give to Jewish causes. Below is an excerpt from that statement:

“The Samuel Bronfman Foundation is named after my father as a gesture of respect to the business he created at The Seagram Company, and I now share the responsibilities of running the Foundation with my son, Adam. I am aware of the debt of gratitude I owe my father for now being in the position where I can help others, and I am grateful to my son for the vision he offers as to how we will continue to do so. It is joyful work, and part of a family legacy that I feel is both my obligation and privilege. I have never doubted that I must give, but rather the salient question was to what purpose. That purpose for me is the Jewish people.

Charitable giving ideally leads to opportunity. That opportunity is exactly what my grandfather sought when he came to Canada as a Russian Jewish immigrant. I often think of the dream he had, to create a better life for his family and live in a world where being Jewish did not mean living under constant threat and oppression. I am cognizant that my philanthropic work is the result of his bravery many years ago in traveling from an old world to a new one. It is a similar journey of expanded possibilities I hope to encourage for the Jewish people today.

At the Foundation, our work is not only to make grants, but to connect the programs and people we encounter, and enable their autonomy. The result is a shared long-term vision that enriches everyone’s work and contributes to a stronger and more expansive Jewish community.

I have found philanthropy deeply satisfying work, and am proud to join the Giving Pledge. I encourage all people to engage in giving to others, be it through time or money. The point is to be involved. Helping is a joyful experience and enriches the giver as much as those who receive. By enabling people to do good work, I participate in a brighter future for the Jewish people and, I hope, all of humanity.”

Formerly CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd, Edgar M. Bronfman supports a wide variety of Jewish causes. Recognized for his leadership by organizations, universities and governments around the world, Mr. Bronfman seeks through The Samuel Bronfman Foundation to inspire a renaissance of Jewish life.

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