You may be interested to know that it was B'nai B'rith in England which sponsored me to get to that country in 1939 on a Kindertransport. I also lived in a B'nai B'rith sponsored hostel in London and their committee continued to be in charge of me and other German and Austrian refugee children until the age of 18.
Once I joined B'nai B'rith in the United States, it gave me the opportunity to develop leadership skill - especially in public speaking. Much of this eventually evolved into my very frequent speaking to students about the events the led to the Holocaust.
The 2007-2008 winner of the B'nai B'rith Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge discusses tolerance and diversity. To learn more about the writing challenge visit www.bnaibrith.org/diverseminds.
From the acceptance speech Harold Shulman gave when he received the B’nai B’rith Banking and Finance Unit’s Distinguished Achievement Award on October 24, 2012, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York.
Let me take a few moments to talk about B’nai B’rith. As you all know by now, B’nai B’rith has obviously played a major role in my life and as some of you know on various occasions I have been asked why I chose B’nai B’rith and though there are many answers to that question I thought I could sum it up for you tonight by paraphrasing some of the words of Edmund Fleg, a French Jew, who left Judaism and then returned in 1927 when he learned of the coming birth of his grandchild. He wrote an essay to that grandson entitled “I Am a Jew Because.” I believe that if I paraphrase those words to read “I am a Ben B'rith Because” you will understand what motivates me and what B’nai B’rith is all about. So let me begin.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is because of those guiding principles that through B’nai B’rith, I have helped feed the indigent on Passover and Chanukah, I have helped distribute medicines and provide housing to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and I have helped our senior citizens live a more secure and productive life through our senior housing program.
I have seen my eldest grandson learn to appreciate his Judaism more through the activities of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization.
I have fought the ills of anti-Semitism and finally, I have advocated for the welfare of the only democracy in the Middle East, the State of Israel.
So tonight, I want to thank B’nai B’rith for this award, but most of all I want to thank B’nai B’rith for making my life a more productive and meaningful one by allowing me to take part in tikkun olam, helping to repair the world.
I am a survivor who was four years old when I arrived in the U.S. with my parents in December 1938 from Germany. An uncle brought us over, who left Germany at age 19 almost 20 years prior.