Charles Bronfman at 90: On Israel, anti-Semitism, the diaspora and Donald Trump

Charles Bronfman
(Photo credit: Eyal Izhar/Globes Magazine)

It’s not every day that the Israel Philharmonic performs private birthday concerts from the stage of the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv. But if you happen to be Charles Bronfman—and it’s your 90th birthday, which it was on June 27, 2021—and you’ve got your name on the building because you were the main donor when the cultural centre was renovated—then you get Schubert, Brahms, balloons and surprise video greetings from Zubin Mehta, Itzhak Perlman and the incoming president of the State of Israel, Isaac Herzog.

Bronfman is a Canadian billionaire, philanthropist and recipient of the Order of Canada, among numerous other accolades. If don’t know his name, you might at least know of Birthright, the international program that offers free trips to Israel for young Jews. He’s the co-founder.

Although Bronfman’s goals have long been to help young Jews fall in love with Israel and embrace their Judaism, he sees a rise in anti-Semitism that makes it hard for young Jews to do that. The current conflict in the Middle East isn’t helping matters.

On today’s episode of The CJN Daily podcast, Bronfman joins for an in-depth interview about his new venture, called the Jewish Peoplehood Alliance, as well as his views on Israeli politics, Donald Trump, the Montreal Canadiens’ odds at winning the Stanley Cup and how negotiations are going to bring a baseball team back to Montreal. Listen and subscribe above.

What we talked about:

  • Watch the Israel Philharmonic’s “Concert in Denim”, honouring Charles Bronfman’s 90th birthday, on YouTube
  • Read: “Charles Bronfman warns of ‘rift’ between diaspora and Israel” (
  • Learn about Bronfman’s work at

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. Find more great Jewish podcasts at