New York's Sephardic community was reeling this week as it began coming to grips with the bizarre death of its "king," the revered Lebanese-born billionaire philanthropist and financier Edmond Jacob Safra.
Devastated community leaders said the loss of the 67-year-old founder of the Republic National Bank of New York is an incalculable setback for the dozens of Sephardic synagogues, schools and charities in New York, Israel and around the world that benefited from Safra's seemingly bottomless store of generosity and discreet wisdom.
Elie Rekhess is a senior research fellow at Tel Aviv University's Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East Studies and an adviser to the Abraham Fund, which promotes coexistence between the Jews and Arabs in Israel. Born in Haifa, Rekhess, 53, served as a strategic adviser to Ehud Barak during his successful campaign for prime minister. He is currently an adviser to the Ministerial Committee on the Arabs in Israel. He was interviewed during a recent visit to the city.
Jewish Week: How has the attitude of the Arab citizens of Israel changed since the Oslo peace accords in 1993?
Some say there are really only two Jewish denominations: serious Jews, and all the rest. And serious Jews approach millennial celebrations with what Sir Walter Scott described as ìburning pride and high disdain.î
The organizations representing Jewish Republicans and Democrats were trading shots this week over the apparent involvement of two top Israeli leaders in the 2000 Senate race here.
Neither Prime Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the One Israel party, nor Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert of Likud have made explicit endorsements in the race. But within the span of two weeks, both politicians offered praise for the two presumptive candidates: Barak for Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Democrat, and Olmert for Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
The leader of an organization representing defrauded chasidic Holocaust survivors lashed out at the World Jewish Congress in open court Monday, blasting the agency for its criticism of fees requested by lawyers in the class-action suit against Swiss banks.
For a professional critic, it was an unusual admission. “Maybe,” said Frank Rich, “I’m a Pollyanna.”
Rich, former chief drama critic for The New York Times (when reminded of his nickname, “the butcher of Broadway,” he quipped: “kosher butcher”), current op-ed page columnist for the paper and senior writer for its magazine, spoke Tuesday at a forum sponsored by The Jewish Week. More than 250 people attended the event, part of a series of public programs sponsored by the paper.