Joseph Safra, a Lebanese-born financier, who became the world’s richest banker after building an international business empire in Brazil, his adopted country, has died. He was 82.
The scion of a Sephardi Jewish family, Safra was born in Beirut and was guided by his financier father, Jacob. Famous for his discretion and conservatism, Safra chaired until his death the Safra Group, a conglomerate spanning banking, property, cellulose and bananas. Forbes magazine estimated his wealth this month at $23 billion, making him the world’s 63rd richest person and its wealthiest banker, according to the Financial Times.
The Safra Group’s extensive global property portfolio includes London’s Gherkin building, one of the city’s most distinctive landmarks, 660 Madison Ave. in New York City, J. Safra Sarasin private bank in Switzerland, Safra National Bank of New York.
Known for his philanthropy, Safra donated Rodin sculptures to a São Paulo public museum, gave money to two hospitals in the city, and funded the construction of a lavish synagogue. The family’s best-known gift came via the Jacob Safra Foundation, which gave Albert Einstein’s original manuscript on the theory of relativity to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Guido Goldman, who used his vast inherited wealth and extensive network of friendships in politics and the arts to help rebuild America’s relationship with Germany after WWII, died Nov. 30 at his home in Concord, MA. He was 83.
Mr. Goldman’s fingerprints can be found on many of the leading postwar academic and cultural institutions linking the United States and Germany, including the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University, which he founded with his mentors Henry Kissinger and Stanley Hoffmann.
Mr. Goldman’s father, who was president of the World Zionist Organization, instilled in his sons a commitment to social justice, which led Mr. Goldman to underwrite civil rights activism in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Already rich from his mother’s inheritance, Mr. Goldman amassed even more wealth during the 1970s and ‘80s as a real estate investor and private money manager — money he gladly and often anonymously dispensed among his friends and people he admired, including civil rights activists like Harry Belafonte and Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, the New York Times said.
Jack Steinberger, who shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in physics for expanding understanding of the ghostly neutrino, a subatomic particle, died Dec.12 at his home in Geneva. He was 99.
The neutrino’s existence was first proposed in 1931, but finding one proved difficult. It has no electrical charge, travels at nearly the speed of light, and has almost no mass. Not until 1956, when ways to smash atoms and examine the debris were developed, was one detected.
Six years later, Dr. Steinberger joined with two fellow Columbia University physicists, Melvin Schwartz and Leon M. Lederman, to show that two types of neutrinos existed. Just as significant, they devised a method to produce a beam composed of vast numbers of neutrinos at very high energies to study one of the basic forces of nature.
In bestowing the physics prize on the three men, the Nobel awards committee said they had “opened new opportunities for research into the structure and dynamics of matter.”
He was born in Bad Kissingen in Bavaria, Germany. His father was a cantor and religious teacher to the town’s small Jewish community. With the rise of the Nazis, his parents arranged for him to go to the U.S. with the help of the American Jewish charities. He was placed in the home of a wealthy grain broker named Barnett Faroll, who several years later arranged for his parents and brothers to join them in Chicago, rescuing them from the Holocaust.
The Shofar joins the membership is extending condolences to shul member Larry Kotik on the death of his father, Paul, on Nov. 20, 2020. May he be remembered for his loving kindness to his family and for his service to our country. Our sympathies to Larry, Tim, Larry’s sister Harriet and her husband Martin, and their children.
Lord Jonathan Sacks, formerly Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, died Nov. 7 in London. He was 72.
Lord Sacks, a prolific author of books and articles on Jewish thought and religious tolerance, served as chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 to 2013.
Israeli president Reuven Rivlin called Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks “a man of thought and a man of words, a man of creativity and a man of truth, whose generosity and compassion built bridges between people.”
Sheldon Solow, a Manhattan real estate developer who built a commercial and residential empire over a half-century, died Nov. 17 in Manhattan. He was 92.
The son of a Brooklyn bricklayer, Mr. Solow built scores of high-end rental structures, including his signature Solow Building at 9 West 57th Street, a 50-story office tower whose front-and-back glass facades are steep concave slopes. Since the early 1970s, it has been one of the city’s most distinctive edifices.
Mr. Solow, who was self-taught in fine art appreciation, according to the New York Times, amassed one of the city’s notable private collections of Renaissance and modern art, with works by van Gogh, Joan Miró, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Balthus, Picasso, Matisse, Botticelli. Giacometti, Morris Louis and Mark Rothko, as well as Egyptian antiquities and African art.
Seymour Topping, who chronicled the rise of China and the Cold War in Europe and Asia as a correspondent, shaped the crowning years of print journalism as an editor of The New York Times, and led the charge into the internet age in the classrooms of Columbia University, died Nov. 8 at White Plains (NY) Hospital. He was 98.
Mr. Topping enjoyed a career as a correspondent for wire services and The Times, as a foreign news editor and managing editor of the newspaper, subordinate only to the powerful executive editor A.M. Rosenthal, as a teacher and author of four books, and as one of America’s most respected journalists. “For Mr. Topping, known to colleagues as Top, the story was always about more than the day’s news developments, intriguing as they might be. It was about their historical significance, too,” The Times said.
Mr. Topping prized high standards of reporting and editing, which demanded fairness, objectivity and good taste in news columns free of editorial comment, political agendas, innuendo and unattributed pejorative quotations.