Rabbi Sacks To Retire
LONDON — British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks will retire in two years. United Synagogue president Simon Hochauser said Dec. 13 that Rabbi Sacks will step down in September 2013 after 22 years, the Jewish Chronicle reported. Hochauser said focus groups will help select a successor. Rabbi Sacks, who replaced Lord Immanuel Jakobovits, was knighted in 2005 and entered the House of Lords in 2009.
LONDON — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. The choice of Zuckerberg to grace the cover of Time’s year-end issue was announced Dec. 15. The magazine said that Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, was recognized for “connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information, and for changing how we all live our lives.” A college dropout, Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004. He’s estimated to be worth $6.9 billion.
Libel Thrown Out
BUDAPEST — A court in Budapest threw out a libel case against Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff because the 97-year-old plaintiff didn’t show up for the final court date. The court dismissed the case Dec.16, but Sandor Kepiro is expected to appeal. He filed suit after Zuroff, head of the Israeli office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, submitted documents to the Hungarian courts in 2006 about Kepiro’s alleged role in the murders of 1,246 civilians in Novi Sad. Most of the victims, including Jews, Serbs and Roma, were taken to the Danube River and shot in January 1943. Reportedly, Kepiro was found guilty of involvement twice – once by pre-Nazi Hungarian courts and again after the war in absentia. Kepiro said Zuroff had proclaimed him guilty before a trial. Zuroff expects to know next month whether the war crimes charges will be filed against Kepiro.
BERLIN — Germany has committed to donate $80 million to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation to preserve and restore the memorial at the site of the Nazi concentration camp. The contribution will be split between the federal government and the states, and will come in five annual instalments, the German Foreign Ministry said. The contribution is by far the largest to the new foundation, established in 2009 with the aim of raising $160 million in capital funds to preserve the site.
NEW YORK — The granddaughter of former U.S. president George H.W. Bush is engaged to marry the son of famed Jewish fashion designer Ralph Lauren. Fashion model Lauren Pierce Bush, daughter of Neil Bush and Sharon Bush and niece of former president George W. Bush, is engaged to David Lauren, a fashion executive. Ralph Lauren’s original name is Ralph Reuben Lifshitz.
Iranian Islamists Threaten Esther’s Tomb
TEHRAN — A group of Islamists have threatened to destroy the tomb of Queen Esther in western Iran if Israel damages the Al-Aqsa mosque.
The Islamists, members of the student Islamist militia at Bu-Ali-Sina university of Hamedan, were identified by the Iranian Mehr news agency, according to the French news agency AFP. They demonstrated Dec. 12 at the tomb.
“Muslims beware that they have started the destruction of Al-Aqsa mosque while their second sacred site in Iran, the Esther and Mordecai tomb, is at peace and no Muslims make a sound,” the protesters said in a statement.
Several construction and archeological projects on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem have led Muslims to charge Israel is purposely putting the Al-Aqsa mosque in danger.
Up to 25,000 Jews live in Iran. Pilgrims regularly visit the Esther shrine.
Esther is the heroine of the Purim story in which she convinces her husband, King Achashverosh, to allow Jews to defend themselves and live in the Persian Empire.