Tag Archives: Boston University

Jew of the Week: Ahmed Zayat

Ahmed Zayat holding the trophy at the 2015 Preakness Stakes

Ahmed Zayat holding the trophy at the 2015 Preakness Stakes

Ephraim Ahmed Zayat (b. 1962) was born in Cairo to a wealthy Orthodox Jewish-Egyptian family. His father was Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s personal doctor. Zayat studied in the US at Yeshiva University, and then at Boston University, where he got his Master’s in business and health. He then spent some time as a real estate investor in New York (working for past Jew of the Week Zev Wolfson), before returning to Egypt to run Al-Ahram Beverages. Zayat turned the company into a huge success, particularly through its popular alcohol-free halal beer catered to the Muslim world. He sold Al-Ahram to Heineken in 2002 for triple the original price, making it the largest buyout in Egypt’s history. Zayat then turned his attention to horse racing. He first learned to ride horses as a child growing up in Egypt, and had competed in various show jumping tournaments, winning a couple of national titles. Zayat soon started his new company, Zayat Stables, to breed his own race horses. His horses have gone on to win two dozen prestigious competitions. At one point, he was America’s number one race horse owner. Most recently, his horse American Pharoah made history by winning the Triple Crown – one of just 12 horses to do so, and the first since 1978. Before the final race, Zayat had American Pharoah’s jockey Victor Espinoza visit the grave of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to pray for success. Zayat still has big investments all over the world, including being the main shareholder in Egypt’s largest glass container manufacturer. He is also a noted philanthropist, donating large sums to various important causes, including Jewish schools.

Words of the Week

From the time that God said to our forefather Abraham, “Go from your land…” and “Abraham went on, journeying southward,” began the process of birurim – of extracting the sparks of holiness that are scattered throughout the universe and buried within the material existence… By Divine providence, a person wanders about in his travels to those places where the sparks that are to be extracted by him await their redemption…
– Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch

Jew of the Week: Elie Wiesel

Messenger to Mankind

Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel

Eliezer Wiesel (b. 1928) was born in Romania in a home that regularly spoke Hungarian, German, Romanian, and Yiddish. During the Holocaust he suffered in multiple labour and concentration camps, including Buchenwald and Auschwitz, and lost both parents and a younger sister. After the war, he resettled in Paris, studied at the Sarbonne, and worked as a journalist. In 1949, Wiesel became the Paris correspondent (later the international correspondent) for Yediot Ahronot. Though originally not wanting to write at all about the horrors of the Holocaust, he was convinced by a friend and published Night in 1958 – a shortened French version of his 900-page memoir in Yiddish. Though it took a while to hit the mainstream, the book now sells hundreds of thousands of copies every year and has been translated into 30 languages. Wiesel has subsequently authored many more publications, and has become an internationally-renowned speaker. In 1986, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts against racism, violence, and genocide, and was called a “messenger to mankind”. He has also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and was knighted, among many other awards. He has even been nominated as President of Israel, but did not wish to take up the post. Wiesel has taught at Boston and Columbia Universities, the City University of New York, and served as a visiting scholar at Yale. He has spent a great deal of his life as a political activist for international causes. He stood strongly against apartheid South Africa and raised support for intervention during the Bosnian genocide, and more recently in Darfur. He has assisted the plight of Kurds, Native Americans, Argentinian Desaparecidos, as well as Soviet and Ethiopian Jewry. Wiesel remains a vocal supporter of Israel, and Jerusalem as its undivided capital. For the past 58 years, he has lived in the US and to this day has authored 57 books.

UPDATE: Sadly, Elie Wiesel passed away on July 2, 2016.

Words of the Week

For me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics. It is mentioned more than six hundred times in Scripture – and not a single time in the Koran.
– Elie Wiesel