Champion of Jewish liberal values Bloomberg to step down

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will stand down from City Hall on December 31.

Since he took up the position in 2002, the Boston-born Jew has battled for the rights of Jewish communities and been applauded by Israel advocacy groups across the globe.

Mr Bloomberg has backed US President Barack Obama’s policy on Israel and attacked boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against the Jewish state.

In October, he received the first $1million Genesis Prize – also known as the “Jewish Nobel Peace Prize” – that is awarded to “exceptional people whose values and achievements will inspire the next generations of Jews”. He will receive the prize in May from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Bloomberg has been a champion of liberal-Jewish values. He conducted a ceremony for the first Jewish gay marriage in New York at his Upper East Side residence in 2011. Despite the presence of a group of Orthodox Jewish protesters nearby, he told couple John Feinblatt and Jonathan Mintz, who both worked at City Hall: "Today, surrounded by family and friends, you are making history."

He also defended proposals to build a mosque near Ground Zero, the site of the former World Trade Centre. The Anti-Defamation League, an antisemitism watchdog, vigorously opposed the plan.

A philanthropist well known for his generosity, Mr Bloomberg signed a pledge with George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg in 2010 to donate at least half of his wealth to charity. In 2011, he gave £172 million to 970 different charities, including the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged and several arts organisations.

Mr Bloomberg, who was tipped as a possible presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012, described his Polish-Jewish predecessor Ed Koch as “a great mayor, a great man and a great friend” on his death this year.

Mr Bloomberg is the 108th New York mayor and will be succeeded by Bill de Blasio.

The billionaire businessman, with a fortune estimated at $31bn, founded media company Bloomberg LP. He will go on to lead Bloomberg Associates, a consulting organisation, which will advise countries on urban policy.

Mr Bloomberg, 71, has two daughters, Emma and Georgina, aged 34 and 30, with his ex-wife, Yorkshire-born Susan Brown.

Last updated: 4:50pm, December 22 2013