I read three of this guy’s books, including The Making of a Jew and The Making of a Businessman, and they were absolutely worthless. They added nothing. There was no point to publishing them. There were no original insights. There were no great stories. They were just a waste.
So I’m reading all these tributes to Edgar Bronfman Sr. and I’m wondering, where’s the beef? What am I missing? What I do know about the man is that he put his name on a bunch of books he undoubtedly did not write and that did nothing for humanity. It must have given him great ego satisfaction but his books made zero contribution. It’s hard to publish many books and make no contribution but Edgar Bronfman Sr. did that.
This guy had five marriages and yet felt entitled to publish all these books on Judaism and the Jews that were nothing but tired liberal cliches.
My view on obituaries is that they are a wonderful opportunity to tell the truth. I don’t know much about Edgar Bronfman Sr., but what I do know is almost entirely from his own books, and hence my memory of him is so sharply negative.
Edgar Bronfman reminds me of another famous Jew who wrote three useless books prior to moving to Israel — Rabbi Daniel Gordis. Then he hit his stride and did great work.
I wrote about Edgar Bronfman Sr June 19, 2009:
I read his first two. Big mistake. They were dull.
His new book: "Hope, not fear: a path to Jewish renaissance"
Why does anyone publish this man? He has nothing to say.
Publishers Weekly says: Bronfman, a philanthropist, former World Jewish Congress president and former Seagram CEO, bemoans the dry, joyless Judaism of his youth, which he in turn transmitted to his own children. The Holocaust and fear of anti-Semitism are no longer enough to drive Jewish identity and participation, he argues, along with writer Zasloff; only a more open, more celebratory and hopeful communal life will draw and retain young Jews. This community must be pluralistic, unreservedly welcoming intermarried Jews and their spouses, gay Jews and others outside the traditional Jewish mold. (Among the scores of mostly young leaders the authors quote is the first Asian-American rabbi.). Few of these ideas are new, and, occasionally, Bronfman oversimplifies, as when he reduces the complex issue of intermarriage to the need for an open tent, mirroring the hospitality of the biblical Abraham and Sarah. Still, Bronfman has spoken to and learned from a highly diverse group of American Jewish religious and cultural leaders outside the mainstream to fashion a fairly coherent view of what a more vibrant Jewish future might looks like.
Jack Wertheimer wrote in the May 2003 Commentary magazine: “The past president of the World Jewish Congress, Edgar Bronfman, has urged any congregation dissatisfied with its rabbi’s teachings to rise up and “fire the rabbi and get one who will do its bidding.”