More than 1,500 mourners attended an emotional memorial service in New York Wednesday for Andrea Bronfman, 60, one of the most respected figures in Jewish philanthropy and wife of billionaire Charles Bronfman.
Bronfman died Monday after being struck by a livery cab outside her Fifth Avenue apartment.
She was described this week as intense, detail oriented and forthright. John Ruskay, who worked closely with the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, said she “was smart, fun and formidable. She had strong opinions, and she wanted to see results.”
Bronfman was born in London in 1945, the daughter of leading Zionist philanthropists Doris and Hyam “Scotty” Morrison. In 1969 she married David Cohen, a Canadian manufacturer, and moved to Montreal. According to The New York Sun, Charles Bronfman was an usher at her wedding. She married him in 1982, after both were divorced.
Each had three children from previous marriages. They moved to New York in 1998, but spent part of each year in Jerusalem.
Charles and his brother Edgar are sons of Canadian liquor magnate Samuel Bronfman. After Samuel’s 1971 death, the brothers took over his Seagram Company and took up his philanthropy. Edgar leads the World Jewish Congress.
Charles and Andrea’s foundation, created in 1986, launches and operates initiatives in Jewish education, Israel and the arts. Notable are Reboot, cultivating young Jewish leaders, and Birthright Israel, which brings teens to visit Israel.
More recently, she launched major initiatives to aid Israeli artists and help victims of September 11.
“When she got involved in a cause, she wasn’t just a check-writer — she was a quarterback,” herson Jeremy Cohen said at the memorial service.