Shorts: World

Putin donating to future Jewish museum

Vladimir Putin said he would donate one month’s salary to the future Moscow Jewish Museum-Museum of Tolerance. The Russian president made the promise in a meeting last week with Berel Lazar, one of Russia’s two chief rabbis. Lazar is the leader of the Chabad-dominated Federation of Jewish Communities, the group creating Russia’s first Jewish museum. No opening date for the museum has been announced. — jta

Rabbi’s grave ransacked in Lublin

The grave of a 19th century Chasidic rabbi in Poland was ransacked. Police said thieves stole the aluminum part of the tomb belonging to Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz, known as the Seer of Lublin. The police are searching for the structure, which is used by Chasidic pilgrims from around the world to place notes at the grave of Horowitz, who died in 1815. — jta

Azerbaijan to get new Jewish center

Chabad broke ground on a massive new educational complex in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku.

The Ohr Avner Chabad Educational Complex is an 11-building complex that includes a school, orphanage, shul and cultural center. The complex will allow the school to expand its capacity to 600 students from 400. Although Azerbaijan is a predominantly Muslim country, the Jewish community enjoys good relations with the government and reports of anti-Semitic activities are few. Israeli oligarch Lev Leviev’s Ohr Avner Foundation and the Gaidar Aliyev Foundation will jointly finance the $20 million project. — jta

Tory leader says

he is a ‘Zionist’

The leader of Britain’s Conservative Party called himself a Zionist and slammed the initiative for an academic boycott of Israel.

David Cameron, responding to questions Tuesday, June 12, at the annual luncheon of the Conservative Friends of Israel, said the academic boycott was completely uncalled for and that attacks against Israel often slide into anti-Semitism. “If by Zionist you mean that the Jews have the right to a homeland in Israel, and the right to a country, then I am a Zionist,” the Tory leader said. — jta

Global Jewish TV network planned

A Russian banker and politician plans to launch a global Jewish television network.

Vladimir Sloutsker, a senator in the Russian Parliament and former president of the Russian Jewish Congress, said he believes a network is necessary to combat challenges facing the Jewish community, Britain’s Evening Standard reported. “I believe an international Jewish television channel is a necessity,” Sloutsker said. “The Jewish community worldwide is facing, and will face in the near future, growing challenges worldwide.” It is unclear how wealthy Sloutsker is, but he reportedly made two $250,000 donations to the Russian Jewish Congress while he led it. — jta

Mass grave contains Shoah victims

A mass grave holding the remains of thousands of Jews killed by the Nazis has been found in southern Ukraine. Workers laying gas pipelines near Odessa accidentally found the grave that is near a former concentration camp where 5,000 Jews were killed. Roman Shvartsman, a spokesman for the regional Jewish community, estimated that Nazis killed 240,000 Jews in the Odessa region. The director of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, Anatoly Podolsky, said there were approximately 250 to 300 mass graves in Ukraine of Nazi victims, and some have yet to be discovered. — jta

Vatican says Pius XII helped Jews

A high-ranking Vatican official said that Pope Pius XII worked behind the scenes to help Jews persecuted during the Holocaust. Some have said that Pius did not do enough, even accusing him of being anti-Semitic. But the Vatican’s second-in-command said Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, attempted to save Jews by recruiting them for the Vatican security force, Reuters reported.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, made the comments at the presentation of a new biography about Pius. Bertone said Pius decided not to speak out more forcefully against the Nazis because he felt it would only provoke them against Catholics and Jews, and acted “within the limits of circumstances imposed on him.” The plan to save Jews by offering them jobs as Vatican guards did not materialize, Bertone said, because the Nazis and their Italian fascist allies demanded information about the men, including their race. — jta