BUDAPEST -- Two representatives of well-known Jewish banking families were elected on Monday to the governing board of the World Jewish Congress.
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Chella Safra, of Sao Paolo, Brazil, will serve as the new WJC treasurer, and David de Rothschild, of France, will serve as the organization’s chairman of the board. As expected, the WJC Plenary Assembly re-elected Ronald S. Lauder as president of the organization for another four-year term.
WJC delegates also ratified the appointment of Robert Singer, a former senior executive at World ORT, as the organization’s new chief executive and vice president – the most senior professional position.
Also elected by delegates from more than 70 Jewish communities around the world were two policy council co-chairmen: European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor and Mervyn Smith, from South Africa.
Lauder, the billionaire heir to cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, has held the position of president of the WJC since 2007. Among his other philanthropic pursuits, he founded the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, an organization dedicated to rebuilding Jewish communities in Central and Eastern Europe. He has also been actively involved in numerous civic organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Jewish National Fund, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Theological Seminary, Brandeis University and the Abraham Fund. From 1986 to 1987, Lauder served as U.S. ambassador to Austria.
Safra, the new treasurer, was born in Beirut and has been a leader of the Jewish community in Brazil for the past 40 years. A member of the executive board and the consulting board of Keren Hayesod of Sao Paolo, the 62-year-old also founded the women’s division of the foundation and serves as its honorary president. Safra has served the representative of Brazil at the Jewish Agency as well as editor-in-chief of Kol News, a Jewish magazine in Brazil. In addition, she co-founded Americas Amicas, an NGO dedicated to help women from disadvantaged backgrounds receive testing for breast cancer. She is married to Moise Safra, and the couple have five children and 12 grandchildren.
De Rothschild, 70, is chairman of Rothschild Continuation Holdings, the parent company for all Rothschild banking companies. He was born in New York City after his parents escaped the Nazis during the German occupation of France in World War II. After the liberation, his parents moved back to France where he eventually took over the family banking business. In 1974, he married the Italian Princess Olimpia Anna Aldobrandini. The couple have four children and live in Normandy.