Saidye Bronfman: Montreal woman with a passion for her community

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 20th Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3y0m94jn/
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Saidye Bronfman was a great activist for Jewish culture in Montreal. She is remembered for her generosity and sense of community.

Saidye Bronfman

Our last series was about the three Eastern female Nobel Peace Winners for 2011. This next topic will focus closer to home and on one of Montreal’s great ladies of social justice, Saidye Bronfman.

Saidye Bronfman
was born to Jewish emigrant parents. Her father came from Bessarabia which was once Imperial Russia and is now known as Moldovia. Samuel Rosner (1871 - 1952) grew up in England and then emigrated to Canada when he was still in his teens.

Saidye’s mother Priscilla Berger was born in Odessa, Ukranian (1876–1951). Samuel and Priscilla raised their family in Plum Coulee, Manitoba. They were already considerably well off before Saidye married. Samuel was a businessman. He also served as the mayor of Plum Coulee for two years. Priscilla was a homemaker.

Saidye though not poor by any means married into one of the wealthiest families in Canada. She married Samuel Bronfman on June 21, 1922. They had four children, Aileen Mindel, Phyliss Lambert, Edgar Miles and Charles Rosner Bronfman. Just like Samuel Rosner, Saidye’s father, Samuel Bronfman her husband’s lineage was also from Bessarabia.

Samuel bought the Joseph E. Seagram liquor distillers from the heirs Joseph Seagram in Waterloo, Ontario in 1928. Everyone, especially Montrealers, know Seagram Whiskey. By this time the Bronfmans’ were now living in Montreal. Seagram head office was also located in Montreal as well.

The Bronfman family fortune skyrocketed during the days of prohibition. Many researchers linked the Seagram Distillers and the Bronfmans to bootlegging. Samuel positioned himself in Montreal where the liquor laws had been repealed, to sell to America where liquor was still banned. Historians have linked the Bronfman sales to American gangsters such as Al Capone.

Seagram whiskey was the liquor of choice worldwide in the 1980s. By the 1990’s Pernod had taken over as the liquor of choice and became the largest distillery in the world. Seagrams head office in now located in New York, City. The company was taken over by a company called vivendi and are owned by Pernod.

The marriage of Saidye and Samuel Bronfman

Saidye though not poor by any means married into one of the wealthiest families in Canada. She married Samuel Bronfman on June 21, 1922. They had four children, Aileen Mindel, Phyliss Lambert, Edgar Miles and Charles Rosner Bronfman. Just like Samuel Rosner, Saidye’s father, Samuel Bronfman her husband’s lineage was also from Bessarabia.

Samuel bought the Joseph E. Seagram liquor distillers from the heirs Joseph Seagram in Waterloo, Ontario in 1928. Everyone, especially Montrealers, know Seagram Whiskey. By this time the Bronfmans’ were now living in Montreal. Seagram head office was also located in Montreal as well.

The Bronfman family fortune skyrocketed during the days of prohibition. Many researchers linked the Seagram Distillers and the Bronfmans to bootlegging. Samuel positioned himself in Montreal where the liquor laws had been repealed, to sell to America where liquor was still banned. Historians have linked the Bronfman sales to American gangsters such as Al Capone.

Seagram whiskey was the liquor of choice worldwide in the 1980s. By the 1990’s Pernod had taken over as the liquor of choice and became the largest distillery in the world. Seagrams head office in now located in New York, City. The company was taken over by a company called vivendi and are owned by Pernod.

Sense of community

Saidye grew up with good manners and a sense of ethics and principle of noblesse oblige. In the those years it was hard to be Jewish in Canada especially if your family was not wealthy. Saidye was well aware of the prejudice towards Jews. She felt a strong sense of duty and support for her community even as a young girl.

Saidye had a keen sense of Jewish community and knew their many needs. She was the President Girls’ Auxiliary of the Winnipeg Jewish Orphanage Society then was the head of the Ophans Home.

She continued her service to her community when she relocated to Montreal after getting married 1922. By 1929 she was highly involved in the Montreal Jewish Community. She served for six years as the President of Young Women's Hebrew Association, best known as YWHA.

Note: The Christian counterpart is the Young Women’s Christian Association or better known as the YWCA.

Overlapping the period of her leadership at the YWHA, Saidye Bronfman founded and became the President of Combined Jewish Appeal - Women’s Division during 1931 -1933.

Saidye was a supporter of Israe (Zionist)l. She was committed to Jews in Montreal, Israel, and the diaspora (all over the world).

In 1934, she became “one of the founders of Canadian Youth Aliyah, the Hadassah organization’s program to resettle German-Jewish youngsters in Palestine.” Aliyah refers to Jewish emigration to Israel. However, in recent years it used by Jews in the diaspora to mean to make a pilgrimage to Israel.

To be continued

All photos taken from the public domain

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Tags

Al Capone, Aliyah, Bootlegging, Bronfman, Bronfman Family, Bronfman Family Fortune, Prohibition, Saidye, Sam Bronfman, Seagram, Seagram Whiskey, Whiskey

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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Comments

author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
20th Oct 2015 (#)

That type of people make a big difference in our communities!

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