Matthew Bronfman Discovers Ataki
Limmud FSU Festival in Kishinev Has Mathew Bronfman Looking Throught the Family History
“To this day, I ask myself, from where did he gather the strength to uproot his whole family and bring them to the New World”? Matthew Bronfman, the great-grandson tells the audience at the opening of the Limmud FSU festival in Kishinev. “What is quite clear is that by doing so, he saved his family and ensured the future of the generations that followed.”
Mathew Bronfman has arrived at Ataki, the home town of this great-grandparents, Yechiel-Eikel and Midel-Golda Bronfman, to explore the family history. On May 1882, following a wave of pogroms throughout the southwest of the Russian Empire, they have tethered together their three children, one of whom was two-month old Samuel, the children’s nanny and two rabbis so that a Jewish community could be created in their new home and left for Canada. The Bronfman family found itself in Winnipeg in south-west Canada. They began to explore their surroundings and started out by selling fish. Yechiel also cut timber in the forests. In 1903 Yechiel-Eikel purchased a house in the town of Emerson in the Province of Manitoba and turned it into a hotel with four rooms. Samuel was given the job of running it. He quickly learned that they could make more money by selling whiskey in the bar rather than renting out rooms. In 1919 his father died and Sam took up the reins and bought out a liquor company founded in 1857, creating a new enterprise – The Seagram Company.
When Sam Bronfman died, at the age of 82, in 1971, Seagram’s was the world’s largest manufacturer of alcoholic drinks and the Bronfman family was one of the wealthiest Jewish families in the world. Mathew Bronfman has arrived at Balti, better known to us as Beltz, in the company jet. Ataki is situated 250 km north of Kishinev. The Bronfman family left Ataki 150 years ago, so there is no evidence of where they lived nor has anyone any real idea. In order to seek out a connection, he made his way to the Jewish cemetery in Bolchenitz.it is virtually impossible to identify who is buried where but it is certain that it holds the ancestors of the Bronfman family. Bronfman also visited the town of Soroka, where his great-grandmother was born. He visited the local Jewish community center and met with whatever Jews left here. In the evening he arrived in Kishinev, for the Limmud FSU festival, where he spoke about his family history and all that he has learned during the day.
About Matthew Bronfman
History of a Philanthropist
Matthew Bronfman (born July 16, 1959) is an American businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist. A member of the Bronfman family, he is the son of prominent businessman and philanthropist Edgar Bronfman, Sr. Matthew Bronfman is Limmud FSU's major supporter and has been involved in a leadership role since 2009. As one of the largest American Jewish investors in the Israeli economy, Bronfman is also the main shareholder in IKEA Israel. He attended Harvard Business School where he graduated in 1985. Matthew’s major philanthropic interests besides Limmud FSU include, among others - national chairman, American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS program; chairman, Teamwork Foundation; and member of the board of 92nd Street Y.