B’nai B’rith International is disappointed by the alarmist rhetoric surrounding the recently released 2012 Social Security and Medicare Trustees report on the current and projected financial status of both programs. The outlook for Medicare is largely unchanged this year, and continues to be affected by health care system-wide inflation. The outlook for the Social Security program is still relatively bright.
“While the report mentions actuarial declines in both programs, rushing to cut benefits sooner to avoid relatively modest shortfalls decades into the future is misguided and would have a cumulative effect resulting in steeper cuts over the long term,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “Steps must be taken to ensure that the most successful aging programs in the history of this country can continue to provide meaningful health and income security for older adults and the others who are served by these programs.”
B’nai B’rith supports solutions that achieve solvency while protecting benefits, not those that trade benefit adequacy for program solvency. Some potential options to avoid the shortfall while upholding the goals of the program include removing the cap on taxed wages, resetting the formula to tax 90 percent of earned wages in accordance with the 1983 compromise, or make the benefit formula more progressive, among many other options.
This report notes that in the absence of policy changes, Social Security will be able to pay 100 percent of benefits until 2033 (three years earlier than last year’s report), after which the program would be able to pay 75 percent of promised benefits for 75 years.
The outlook for Medicare remains essentially the same as it was in the last report: it will be able to pay full benefits until 2024, if nothing is done. But the country is moving in the right direction by demonstrating new methods for improving care and efficiency.
“We must be careful not to cut programs that benefit those who need it most but to find ways to more effectively fund the program and to make health care more effective and economical,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
B’nai B’rith International applauds President Barack Obama for affirming the importance of Holocaust education and remembrance and speaking of the need for a secure State of Israel in his speech yesterday at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
During his first visit to the museum as president, as part of the Days of Remembrance the president focused on the importance of teaching the next generation about the Holocaust and specifically referenced anti-Semitism as a form of hatred “which has no place in a civilized world.” President Obama will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a Polish Catholic World War II resistance fighter who passed away in 2000.
He also spoke of Israel’s fundamental right to exist in peace and security, saying: “‘Never again’ is a challenge to defend the fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and security—and that includes the State of Israel.” He noted that the United States continually rejects efforts that equate Zionism with racism and would vote against any international resolutions that unfairly single out Israel. He also expressly stated the United States’ opposition to the delegitimization of Israel.
With President Obama’s statement that “the United States will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” B’nai B’rith encourages rigorous follow-through to prevent Iran—a country that denies the Holocaust and threatens Israel’s destruction—from threatening Israel and the world.
B’nai B’rith International is deeply concerned that the April 22 CBS news program “60 Minutes” mischaracterized the Palestinian Christian document “Kairos” as a harmless call for non-violent resistance to the “Israeli occupation.”
This was likely the highest-profile media coverage to date of the inflammatory “Kairos” polemic, which—along with boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, also advocated by “Kairos”—is on the agenda of the national convention of the United Methodist Church (UMC) commencing April 24 in Tampa, Fla. The General Conference of the UMC, the largest mainline Protestant denomination, is held once every four years.
“The ‘60 Minutes’ story was flawed at best and these flaws only serve to distract from the very real problems facing Christians in the Middle East,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “Meanwhile, the piece failed to present any contrary views to Palestinian pastor Mitri Raheb, who denies the document is anti-Semitic, saying it ‘doesn’t ask for violence’ or ‘revenge,’ only hope, love and faith. But “Kairos” demonizes Israel alone, calling the presence of Israeli Jews in disputed territories a ‘sin against God’ and denying the very legitimacy of the Jewish state.”
The “60 Minutes” piece also erroneously reported that the “Kairos” document was endorsed by the leaders of 13 Christian denominations in Israel. While a pastoral letter by these leaders was appended to “Kairos,” they did not endorse the document.
“Kairos,” released in 2009, features Palestinian Christian declarations that the Israeli “military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity.” It accuses Israel of “apartheid” and calls for a systematic boycott of Israel alone.
“Perhaps most disturbing,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin, “the ‘60 Minutes’ report failed to point out that Israel is the only pluralistic democracy in the region, where Christians are able to live free from persecution and have grown in actual numbers, unlike so many other places in the Middle East.”
B’nai B’rith International will closely monitor relevant proceedings at the UMC conference, including a resolution promoting the “Kairos” document and another motion for divestment from companies seen as complicit in Israeli policies of which the UMC disapproves, beginning with Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard.
On April 24, 2012, with hundreds in attendance, B’nai B’rith International honored Maggie Wilderotter, chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: FTR), with its 2012 Distinguished Achievement Award at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.
This award recognizes the accomplishments of key community and corporate leaders from around the world, and the event represented a “who’s who” of corporate leadership in attendance, including speakers Bob McDonald, chairman, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble; and Denise M. Morrison, president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company and Wilderotter’s sister.
McDonald and Morrison, along with B’nai B’rith leaders, praised Wilderotter’s commitment to the community as well as her outstanding leadership.
“Maggie is one of this country’s great business leaders, and we are honored to be able to recognize her ongoing commitment to the community,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “She exemplifies what we look for when choosing award recipients: she is committed to workforce diversity and to improving the quality of life in the communities her company serves through better communications, employment opportunities and causes important to its customers.”
Under Wilderotter’s leadership, Frontier is a 100 percent U.S.-based workforce that works closely with the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces to boost career opportunities for members of the military reserve and veterans. B’nai B’rith recognizes and applauds this commitment to social responsibility. Support for these core values is the foundation of good corporate governance.
Wilderotter’s professional accolades and accomplishments include her Oct. 4, 2010, appointment by President Obama to serve as vice chair of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. Fortune magazine included her on its 2009, 2010 and 2011 lists of “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” and most recently she received the “Business Media Award” from the Women’s Media Center in New York City.
Before joining Frontier in 2004, Wilderotter held leadership posts at Microsoft, Wink Communications, AT&T and McCaw Cellular Communications, among other companies. In addition to Frontier, she currently serves on the Board of Directors of Procter & Gamble and Xerox and several non-profit organizations. She is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross.
“This dinner was the perfect opportunity to recognize Maggie Wilderotter for her commitment to social responsibility,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Her impressive work in education and diversity issues will surely serve as an inspiration to other corporate leaders.”
For more than four decades, B’nai B’rith has presented the Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of the accomplishments of key community and corporate leaders around the world. These exceptional individuals and companies are honored for their community service, dedicated leadership and commitment to improving the lives of the individuals they serve.
Frontier Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: FTR) offers voice, broadband, satellite video, wireless Internet data access, data security solutions, bundled offerings, specialized bundles for residential customers and small businesses and home offices, and advanced business communications for medium and large businesses in 27 states and with approximately 15,400 employees. Frontier is included in the S&P 500 Index and is the largest provider of communications services focused on rural America. It has a 100 percent U.S.-based workforce. More information is available at www.frontier.com.
From left to right: BBI EVP Dan Mariaschin, CEO of Procter & Gamble Bob McDonald, CEO of Frontier Communications Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of The Campbell Soup Company (and Wilderotter's sister) Denise Morrison, and BBI President Allan J. Jacobs.
The B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) held a joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony April 19, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah), to commemorate the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. This ceremony is the only one in the world dedicated to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews in Europe. The 80th anniversary of the founding of Aliyat Hanoar (Youth Aliyah) was also marked.
More than 800 people participated in the ceremony including 300 Border Patrol Cadets—who provided an honor guard—and 300 high school students. Soldiers and students recited some of the names of 60 Greek Jewish Holocaust victims—a fraction of the 67,000 who perished in the Holocaust, representing 86 percent of Greek Jewry.
In honor of the anniversary of the founding of Aliyat Hanoar (Youth Aliyah) this year’s ceremony also marked the heroism of two outstanding rescuers: Recha Freier and Josef Itai.
Susan Caine (Freier), the eldest granddaughter of Recha Freier and Hanan Itai, son of Josef Itai, spoke at the ceremony representing the Jewish rescuers. Ester Golan, who was rescued due to Freier’s activity, represented the survivors. Greek Ambassador to Israel H.E. Kyrikaos Loukakis, member of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael KKL-JNF Board of Directors Shlomo Vayzer and B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz also spoke at the ceremony.
Freier arranged for the immigration to Mandatory Palestine in 1932 of an initial group of 12 German Jewish students. In January 1933 she formally founded Youth Aliyah in Berlin, which provided the framework for saving the lives of 7,000 Jewish children during the Holocaust, principally through emigration to Mandatory Palestine. Freier summoned Itai, a young “Hashomer Hatzair” leader from Yugoslavia, to care for German and Austrian children who escaped to Zagreb, Croatia, where Freier continued her rescue activities after fleeing from Germany. Freier obtained 90 certificates that allowed most of those children to immigrate to Palestine. A group of 30 was left behind in Zagreb with no certificates and had to survive under fear of internment in Croatia or deportation to concentrations camps elsewhere. The group grew to about 100 and Itai eventually led them across the border to Switzerland in October 1943. He arrived in Palestine in June 1945 where he presented the children to Freier.
During the ceremony, the “Jewish Rescuers Citation”—a joint project of the B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust—was conferred on a group of rescuers who operated in the underground Zionist Youth Movement in Hungary.
The event was held at the Martyr’s Forest, a joint KKL-JNF-B’nai B’rith project composed of 6 million trees in the picturesque Jerusalem mountains to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust. At the pinnacle of the forest stands the “Scroll of Fire” by the renowned sculptor Nathan Rappaport. The organizers of the ceremony view it as especially important to expose Jewish youth to the story of Jewish rescue during the Holocaust as a model for Jewish solidarity and courage.
This was part of B’nai B’rith’s Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations throughout the world. As the North American sponsor of the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” commemoration of Yom Hashoah, B’nai B’rith enabled community observances across the United States where names of those who perished in the Holocaust were read aloud in public spaces such as parks and malls. Throughout Latin America large community-wide observances were also held. B’nai B’rith International also cosponsored the “We Walk to Remember” program with Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Jewish fraternity, on more than 80 college campuses throughout the United States, Canada and Israel.
As it has since 1989, B’nai B’rith International is proud to once again serve as the official North American sponsor of the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” commemoration of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, April 19. In community observances across the United States names of those who perished in the Holocaust will be read aloud in public spaces such as parks and malls.
Programs began on Sunday, April 15, and will continue through April 22, Along with their names, participants will read the date of birth and where and when the victims were murdered by the Nazis. This year, the theme developed by Yad Vashem is “My Brother’s Keeper: Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust.”
In addition to community observances, a related program, “We Walk to Remember,” will be jointly sponsored with Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Jewish Fraternity, on more than 80 college campuses throughout the United States, Canada and Israel.
Students will gather to remember the victims of the Holocaust by reading the names aloud and then walking throughout their campuses to bring a very clear message: that they would “Never Forget.” B’nai B’rith provides handout materials and stickers that say “Never Forget,” which participants wear.
The B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem serves on the international committee that provides reading and information about the annual theme. Communities are encouraged to seek additional names for the Yad Vashem archive of Holocaust victims as it becomes harder and harder to get this information from survivors. B’nai B’rith is grateful to Kurt and Tessye (of blessed memory) Simon for their support of this Center for Jewish Identity program..
B'nai B'rith International is deeply saddened by the death of former B'nai B'rith International leader Philip Lax who passed away April 16 in his Maplewood, N.J., home.
Mr. Lax devoted much of his life to preserving American Jewish history. He played a significant role in the Ellis Island Restoration Commission and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. His creation of a generous endowment to house B'nai B'rith's archives helped illuminate not only B'nai B'rith's proud history but also historic moments in Jewish history as far back as 1700. The extensive archive comprises thousands of manuscripts, charters, medals, letters, memorabilia and other artifacts and serves as an invaluable primary resource.
"Phil gave of himself tremendously, playing a precious role in this organization. His unwavering commitment to preserving the history and culture of, not only our organization, but the Jewish people will be a permanent legacy of his commitment to Jewish life. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends," said B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
A B'nai B'rith member since 1953, Lax played an active role in the organization, serving in a number of capacities including president of South Mountain Lodge in New Jersey, president of District 3 and chairman of the International Council of B'nai B'rith, the forerunner of today's Center for Human Rights and Public Policy. He also played a crucial role on behalf of B'nai B'rith at the United Nations.
"Phil's deep commitment to Israel, public policy and U.N. affairs, as well his dedication to the protection of Jews and other minorities were major contributions to our work on behalf of Israel and human rights. He will certainly be deeply missed," said B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.
Mr. Lax is survived by his wife, Madeline; his brother, Oscar; two daughters; two step-sons; three grandchildren; and four step-grandchildren.
B’nai B’rith applauds the Chicago City Council for unanimously passing a resolution for the Municipal Employees Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago to divest from companies involved in Iran’s energy sector. The resolution calls for this divestment to occur gradually over the next few years.
B’nai B’rith International, represented by Cary Wolovick, program coordinator for B’nai B’rith’s Midwest Region, joined other Jewish organizations in advocating for the resolution’s passage.
“Chicago’s city government has set an important example for other municipalities to get on board to isolate Tehran,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs, who resides in Lake Forest, Ill. “Sanctions are working. Resolutions such as this are helping unite local governments as well as the global community in a cohesive effort to isolate Iran.”
Chicago is now the 13th municipality in the country, along with New York City and Washington, D.C., to take such a step. This mirrors a similar law that applies to the government of the State of Illinois, which has fully divested from Iran at a profit. The resolution was proposed by Alderman Michele Smith (43rd Ward) and Alderman Debra Silverstein (50th Ward), with 21 cosponsors and backed heavily by the Human Relations Committee Chairman Alderman Joseph A. Moore (49th Ward).
“This marks a crucial step forward for local governments to mirror international sanctions to help isolate Iran, the largest state-sponsor of global terrorism,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “Tehran’s lucrative oil industry is being affected by sanctions, and measures such as these send a strong message to the Tehran regime that it must abandon its nuclear program.”
Countless boxes of matzah. A generous supply of wine and grape juice. Enough eggs to last the week. Dessert options. While this may seem like a typical Passover grocery list, it is still unattainable to many.
This year, B’nai B’rith’s Project H.O.P.E. (Help Our People Everywhere) once again worked to ensure that many of those in need of assistance—whether because of financial, medical, or mobility reasons, or because of vicinity to a grocer that carries kosher-for-Passover food—were able to celebrate Passover this spring.
B’nai B’rith’s Project H.O.P.E. supplied thousands of kosher-for-Passover food packages to community members who cannot afford the special holiday foods. B’nai B’rith volunteers, in some cases joined by other community groups, delivered food in Philadelphia, Long Island, N.Y., the Bronx, N.Y., Upper Manhattan, Connecticut, and Washington-suburban Maryland and Virginia. B’nai B’rith volunteers also assisted local Jewish family services and synagogues to bring holiday food to needy individuals in their community.
The community action project, created by B’nai B’rith Brooklyn leaders from the former District One in the late 1960s, has expanded to communities throughout the Northeast and across the United States. The recipients include singles, couples, families, assisted living residents and group homes for the disabled.
Hundreds of volunteers pitched in this year to help fund raise and purchase the materials, as well as organize the logistics of packing and delivery, for nearly 3,000 packages of kosher-for-Passover food. These packages included eggs, matzah, gefilte fish, borscht, soup, grape juice, macaroons and in some communities fresh or cooked chicken.
In Philadelphia, 540 families received Passover food. Volunteers from B’nai B’rith, synagogues and BBYO, Nassau-Suffolk Region packed and delivered 270 packages throughout Nassau and Suffolk County in Long Island, N.Y. In the Bronx and Upper Manhattan nearly 700 packages were distributed in cooperation with the Bronx Jewish Community Council. Packing and delivery was coordinated at the B’nai B’rith Project H.O.P.E.–Adelstein Family Senior Housing facility in the Bronx.
In Connecticut, 330 packages were packed at the JCC in New Haven, and then delivered by B’nai B’rith volunteers and representatives from the BBYO Connecticut region, the Masons, and the Boy Scouts. In Virginia, 115 packages were delivered to 40 locations. Participants from local lodges and synagogues in Washington, D.C. and Maryland delivered packages to 500 recipients.
Year after year, Project H.O.P.E. fulfills the B’nai B’rith tenets of helping those in need, and connecting them with the Jewish people.
To all volunteers and donors who make this possible, year after year, we send our thanks and best wishes for a healthy and Happy Passover. For more information please contact Rhonda Love at email@example.com.
B’nai B’rith International strongly denounces Nobel laureate Gunter Grass for his anti-Israel poem published yesterday in the German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
In his piece, “What Must Be Said,” Grass claims that Israel—not Iran—is a threat to world peace. He calls on Germany to halt its sale of submarines to Israel and cautions against a potential Israeli nuclear preemptive strike against Iran.
“Instead of calling for Iran—a regime that has vowed to wipe Israel off the map—to halt its nuclear program, Grass instead points a finger at Israel, claiming the Jewish state is instead the principal threat to world peace,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs. “For someone who is presumably as well-informed as a Nobel laureate to not see the fallacies in his argument is incredibly surprising.”
Grass’ poem says: “Why did I say it only now, old and with the last ink: the nuclear power of Israel is the threat the world peace? Because it must be said what tomorrow will be too late.”
“This is a plain case of moral inversion, painting Iran as the victim and Israel as the aggressor,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “Iran continues to spite the international community through its nuclear enrichment program and has vowed to annihilate Israel and somehow Israel is being blamed. Who is the true threat to world peace and stability?”