Newsdesk May 23, 2003

Einstein Site Launched

A new Web site dedicated to Albert Einstein was launched this week by Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the California Institute of Technology.

The site provides access to 43,000 never-before-published documents, articles, photographs and scientific papers taken from the Einstein Archives at Hebrew University.

Hanoch Gutfreund, the former rector and president of Hebrew University who lectured on Einstein’s theories, said that the site “is of great cultural significance.” The site’s address is www.alberteinstein.info.

“We are talking about a cultural asset of the highest degree,” he said. “Now, the broader public can also be impressed by the character of this enigmatic man.”

Gutfreund said Einstein’s connection with Hebrew University began in 1919 — the same year he published his theory of relativity — when he was inspired by Chaim Weizmann to join the World Zionist Organization. As an active member, Einstein undertook the task of working toward establishing a Hebrew university in the Land of Israel.

“In 1921, Einstein embarked on a six-week journey around the United States to raise money for the establishment of the university,” Gutfreund said. “During one evening, when he addressed 800 Jewish doctors, he managed to raise $250,000. He explained at the time that there was no point to political independence without intellectual independence.”

Einstein served on the university’s board of trustees and was the first chairman of its academic committee. Prior to his death, he bequeathed his assets to the university.

Hezbollah Agent Sought

The judge in charge of the investigation of the 1994 bombing of the Jewish communal center in Buenos Aires has called for the arrest of top Hezbollah operative Imad Mughniyeh.

In an addendum to the indictment he issued two months ago against Hezbollah and radical elements within the Iranian government, Judge Juan Jose Galeano alleged that Mughniyeh played a key role in planning the bombing that killed 85 people. The judge issued warrants against four people.

Mughniyeh, who is on the FBI’s most-wanted list for his role in several attacks on American officials during the 1980s in his native Lebanon, is already wanted by Argentina for his alleged role in the bombing of the Israeli embassy in 1992.

Galeano appeared to be responding to a request by the Argentine Jewish umbrella organization to issue more warrants against senior Hezbollah and Iranian officials.

“This shows us that he is still pursuing the investigation, and we are hoping he continues to move forward,” said Marta Nercellas, a lawyer for the Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas, the Jewish umbrella group.

Anti-Hamas Rally in Gaza

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun demonstrated against Hamas on Tuesday for firing rockets on Israel.

Hamas terrorists have used Beit Hanoun as a launching pad for rocket attacks on Israeli towns in the Negev, prompting harsh Israeli retaliation. The protests occurred shortly after Israeli troops pulled out of the town, according to the Jerusalem Post. “We’ve had enough because people have paid a heavy price,” a farmer told the Jerusalem Post. Israel has raided the town seven times during the last 32 months in an effort to stop the rockets. Similar protests are believed to have occurred elsewhere in Gaza.

Groups Score Fries Awards

Several Jewish groups are among 24 recipients of money from a $10 million settlement with McDonald’s over its use of animal fat in French fries and hash browns labeled vegetarian. Hillel and the Star-K organization each will get $300,000, the Jewish Community Centers Association will get $200,000, the Orthodox Union will get $150,000 and the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership will get $50,000. Another $6 million will go to vegetarian organizations, $2 million to Hindu or Sikh groups and some for groups that work for child nutrition. In all, 10% of the money is slated to be used to promote awareness of kashrut, a federal judge ruled Monday. The case, which was decided last year, stemmed from several lawsuits filed against McDonald’s for mislabeling its French fries.

Holocaust Hero Dies

Irene Gut Opdyke, a native of Poland who agreed to serve as a German officer’s mistress to save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust, died last week at 85. In 1940, Opdyke, who was later named a “Righteous Gentile,” befriended 12 Jews who were forced to work as dressmakers and tailors for the Nazis in Tarnopol, Poland. She hid them in the laundry room of a confiscated villa where she worked as a housekeeper for a German officer. One day, the 70-year-old officer discovered her secret and said he would keep it only if she became his mistress. Whenever Opdyke overheard Nazi plans to destroy Jewish ghettos, she warned residents. She also stole food and supplies, delivering them to about 150 Polish partisans and Jews hiding in a nearby forest. Opdyke’s 1999 book, “In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Survivor,” is being turned into a movie.

Donor’s Joke Upsets Aguda

The Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America criticized mega-philanthropist Michael Steinhardt for spoofing fervently Orthodox Jews. David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Aguda, voiced anger in a commentary last week over Steinhardt’s appearance at an April event at which he dressed as a chasidic rabbi. Zwiebel called the act “a bizarre spectacle” and questioned how Steinhardt, “a champion of Jewish continuity,” could “publicly mock the dress, language, lifestyle and beliefs” of Jews who “successfully transmitted authoritative Jewish identity and pride” through generations.

UJC Taps Bank Executive

Robert Goldberg, an Ohio Bank president, is poised to become the next chairman of United Jewish Communities, the federation umbrella group. The nominating committee of UJC tapped Goldberg on May 15 to succeed James Tisch as the top federation lay leader. Morton Plant, UJC’s treasurer, was nominated to succeed Goldberg, who held the organization’s No. 2 position, chairman of the executive committee. The recommendations will be considered for approval by UJC’s board of trustees in June, with the candidates assuming their new posts in November.

Ari Fleischer Resigns

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer will resign in July. Fleischer, one of the senior Jewish officials in the Bush White House, announced Monday that he will leave to pursue a job in the private sector.

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Newsdesk May 23, 2003

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