Saidye Rosner Bronfman

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Saidye Rosner Bronfman (1897–1995), was the matriarch of the Canadian-Jewish Bronfman family, one of the most influential Jewish families in the world. The family was made famous by her husband, Samuel Bronfman (1891–1971), who made a fortune in the distilled alcoholic beverages business during the 20th century through his Seagram Company. Most members of the family are Canadian citizens.

Early life

Saidye Bronfman was born in Plum Coulee, Manitoba and grew up there and in Winnipeg. Her father, Samuel Rosner (1871–1952), was a successful businessman born in Bessarabia, who later emigrated to England and then to Canada while a teenager. He served as mayor of Plum Coulee for two years. Her mother, Priscilla Berger Rosner (1876–1951), was a homemaker who was also an immigrant to Canada from Odessa. Saidye married Samuel Bronfman (1891–1971) in 1922 and two years later they moved to Montreal.[1]

Career and philanthropy

Although Saidye was both born into and married into wealth, she was dedicated to charity. She lived by the principle of noblesse oblige. Prior to her marriage, Bronfman served as president of the Girls’ Auxiliary of the Winnipeg Jewish Orphanage Society and later headed the Orphans’ Home. Beginning in 1929, she served as president of the Young Women's Hebrew Association in Montreal for six years. She was also the founder and president of the Women’s Division of the Combined Jewish Appeal (1931–1933) and in 1934 was one of the founders of Canadian Youth Aliyah, the Hadassah organization’s program to resettle German-Jewish youngsters in Palestine.[1]

In 1952, her husband Sam, established the Samuel & Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation, one of Canada’s major private granting foundations. The Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts was named for her, prior to being renamed the Segal Centre in 2010. The Centre's founding artistic director was Marion Andre (12 January 1920–10 May 2006, Le Havre, France).

Personal life

Saide Bronfman had four children with her husband:[1]

  • Aileen Mindel "Minda" Bronfman de Gunzburg (1925–1985);
  • Phyllis Bronfman Lambert (b.1927) who was the founding director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal;
  • Edgar Miles Bronfman (b.1929) who served as the head of Seagram’s American operations and president of the World Jewish Congress;
  • Charles Rosner Bronfman (b.1931) who served as the chief of Seagram’s Canadian operations, was the founder of the CRB Charitable Foundation, and was one of the initiators of the Birthright program for young Jewish adults.


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