The Making of a Jew

Edgar M. Bronfman, Author
Edgar M. Bronfman, Author Putnam Publishing Group $23.95 (226p) ISBN 978-0-399-14220-8
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President of the World Jewish Congress since 1981, Bronfman, born in Montreal in 1929, rebelled against his Zionist father in his youth and early manhood by rejecting Judaism altogether. But Bronfman, who lives in New York City as an American citizen, did a complete turnaround by becoming president of Seagram Company Ltd., the distillery his father founded, and by actively embracing the Jewish faith. The high point of this straightforward autobiographical memoir details the WJC's detective-like exposure of ex-Austrian president Kurt Waldheim's Nazi past; the congress charged that as a German army officer, the former U.N. leader helped deport Greek Jews to Auschwitz and executed hundreds of civilians and hostages in the Balkans. Bronfman chronicles the WJC's ongoing campaign for the restitution of Jewish property stolen by the Nazis and their successors, the communists in Eastern Europe. A modest yet courageous crusader against anti-Semitism, he records his trip to Argentina, whose Jewish community has been shaken by terrorist bombings. Incisive close-ups of Lech Walesa, Golda Meir, Jesse Jackson, Pope John Paul II, Khrushchev, Yitzhak Rabin and other luminaries enliven the narrative. Bronfman discloses that his seven children married outside the faith, but most of his grandchildren are being brought up Jewish. He sets forth proposals to counteract the erosion of Judaism both in the diaspora and in Israel. Jewish Book Club alternate. (Oct.)
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