B’nai B’rith International has opened its Disaster Relief Fund to assist the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines that swept across the southern part of the country, killing thousands and leaving devastation in its wake.
The storm barreled across the country on Nov. 8, leveling entire villages and crushing infrastructure with 235 mph winds and giant waves. The death toll continues to rise.
“It’s hard to even imagine the widespread devastation they’re experiencing in the Philippines. Each disaster has its own unique challenges and this one will truly be a giant undertaking. As one of the funders of IsraAID, we have made an allocation to support their emergency response team in addressing immediate needs. In addition, we will be evaluating longer term rebuilding efforts,” B’nai B’rith President Allan J. Jacobs said.
The B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund aided victims of Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012, as well as the victims of the Moore, Okla., tornado in May 2013. B’nai B’rith disaster relief funds have also provided aid internationally, assisting earthquake victims in Haiti and Japan, and following man-made disasters, such as the Boston Marathon bombing.
“B’nai B’rith has helped disaster victims since 1865 and we will help the people of the Philippines following this crippling natural disaster,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The gravity of the situation is apparent and the need to help to rebuild a shattered country is great. We will work with representatives of agencies and those on the ground to provide assistance where it is needed.” To help, donate online at our secure website by clicking here.
You can also call 800-573-9057 to make a credit card contribution over the phone. Or, you can send a check payable to the B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund to:
B’nai B’rith International
Disaster Relief Fund
2020 K Street NW, 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20006
B’nai B’rith Endorses Continued Economic Sanctions; P5+1 Should Not Make Concessions Until Iran Fully Halts Its Nuclear Enrichment Program
As the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany) and Iran will continue on Nov. 20 to discuss easing sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, we reiterate our concerns about Iran’s intentions and stress that sanctions—which have impacted Iran economically—are directly responsible for bringing Tehran to the negotiating table.
The P5+1 should not make tangible concessions in exchange for illusory Iranian promises.
Any agreement that does not include Iran’s shipping out its highly-processed uranium and does not also include a verifiable commitment to dismantle the heavy-water plutonium reactor at Arak should be viewed warily. To be acceptable, any deal must also include a verifiable destruction of Iran’s centrifuges, especially the IR-2 advanced centrifuges, along with an internationally-verifiable inspection of Iran’s hidden facilities. More than 20 years of deception by the regime in Tehran toward the West make us dubious of Iran’s true intentions.
Unless these matters are addressed we risk going down a slippery slope of negotiations; prolonged talks only benefit Iran, which will strive to negotiate a weakening of sanctions, even as the regime moves steadily closer to nuclear capability.
We are deeply concerned that concessions—including an unfreezing of financial assets—may be given to the Iranians prematurely, without receiving anything in exchange but an ephemeral, unsubstantiated promise of halting uranium enrichment.
With some experts estimating Iran could be within three months of nuclear weapons capability, to press forward without concrete proof of Iran’s halting its program would be a serious mistake.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International lauds the U.S. Senate for passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that outlaws discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender employees in the work place. As a staunch supporter of equality and tolerance, B’nai B’rith hopes the House of Representatives will follow suit to pass this historic piece of legislation.
Currently, 22 states have laws prohibiting employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. We hope that representatives from both sides of the aisle in the House will come together to vote for this bill, turning the tide on discrimination in the workplace.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith pauses to recognize the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht—the Night of Broken Glass.
Across Germany and Austria on Nov. 9-10, 1938, at least 96 Jews were murdered; more than 1,000 synagogues were set on fire, nearly 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses were destroyed, and countless community centers, libraries and homes were attacked, looted and destroyed. About 30,000 Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.
These horrific acts marked the beginning of the Nazi genocide against the Jews of Europe.
We must work to ensure the passing of time never undermines the memory of what occurred.
B’nai B’rith International reaffirms its support for Israel as the country has decided to reengage with the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) following a hiatus that began in March 2012. With Israel taking the risk of engagement with a body that has subjected it to singular mistreatment, B’nai B’rith urges Western democracies to now do their part. First by consistently refusing participation in the council’s inherently discriminatory “Item 7” discussions—the only item on the UNHRC agenda dedicated to scrutinizing a single country—and also by admitting Israel, like other countries, to a regional group.
“After years in which Israel has been continuously abused at the Human Rights Council, returning to direct engagement is a bold step and a demonstration of responsiveness to foreign appeals,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “Now the fellow democracies that urged Israel to return to the council need to finally include Israel in the Western European and Others Group in Geneva, as they do in New York. Adding Israel to this group would be an important first step toward curbing systemic discrimination against Israel at the world body.”
“With Israel reengaging the Human Rights Council, we hope that others in the international community will recognize how unfairly the council has treated the Jewish state, specifically, but not only, through matters involving Item 7,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Continuing to include Item 7 on the Human Rights Council agenda flies in the face of the U.N.’s basic, stated principles. The international community must understand this and, indeed, should join Israel in its fight, if the U.N. is to have any credibility as an institution protecting human rights and promoting peace.”
Left to right: Morris Segal, B'nai B'rith Uruguay president; Mario Schayevitz, president of the Oriental Lodge; Ricardo Ehrlich, Minister of Education; Rodney Colina, 2013 Light and Truth Award winner.
B'nai B'rith Uruguay presented its sixth Light and Truth Award to Rodney Colina, an engineer and expert researcher in molecular biology. The award—given by the Victor and Clara Soriano Foundation, B'nai B'rith Uruguay and the B'nai B'rith Oriental Unit—recognizes young Uruguayan professionals excelling in the fields of science and technology.
Victor Soriano was a founding member of B'nai B'rith Uruguay and one of the most prestigious medical doctors in the country. As part of the award, Colina will travel to Israel and will enjoy a program developed by the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem.
Uruguay Minister of Education Ricardo Ehrlich and B’nai B’rith Uruguay President Morris Segal presented the award at the B’nai B’rith Hall in Montevideo before a crowd of 200 people.
Engineer and professor Liliana Borzacconi was also presented with the Maimonides Award, in recognition of her career as investigator and the chair of the Council of Sciences in Uruguay.
The ceremony was covered by the major Uruguayan daily newspaper EL PAIS. Click here to the read the story (in Spanish).
Amid freezing temperatures, 35 Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity brothers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of North Texas descended upon an Oklahoma community still in disrepair from last spring’s tornados, performing one week’s work basically in one day.
Under the sponsorship of B’nai B’rith International’s disaster relief program, the students dismantled a barn under the direction of Adam Maslia, of Indianapolis, director of Jewish and Philanthropy Programming, and UT senior Aaron Liener, of Dallas. The project was identified for B’nai B’rith by a relief organization called Field of TEAMS, which was formed to assist farmers whose property was battered by Mother Nature.
“This is a perfect example of B’nai B’rith’s relationship with AEPi and the performance of tikkun olam
,” said Chuck Kaufman, B’nai B’rith senior international vice president, who helped coordinate and promote the activity from Austin. “The group brandished its banner and ours proudly, and built bonds with one another. The brothers epitomized the definition of fraternity.”
The B’nai B’rith Flood, Tornado and Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund provided for the expenses of the program, thanks to the generosity of donors. Currently, the fund is open for victims of the recent Colorado floods.
Members of the community told the volunteers how they rode out the tornados from storm cellars and often felt they were hanging on for dear life. The massive noise and power of the tornados were beyond words, they said.
Field of TEAMS coordinator Levi Clifton said the AEPi/B’nai B’rith group was one of four teams working in the area during the weekend of Oct. 18-20. Other groups were charged with picking up debris and clearing sites, but she reserved the barn project for the AEPi brothers because they were "young, energetic, numerous and passionate" about tackling the enormous task at hand.
Liener said the experience provided numerous lessons for him and his fraternity brothers. “Volunteering and doing tikkun olam
-style events gave us an amazing feeling,” he said. “To see the emotions and gratification on people’s faces was simply priceless. It’s far more meaningful than simply writing a check," though, he acknowledged the numerous donations that allowed AEPi to perform the mitzvah.
The project also allowed the large group to foster brotherhood; and it inspired neighbors to chip in with assistance and much-appreciated food.
“This program really showed what it means to be a brother in this fraternity,” Liener added. “I can’t begin to express the pride we felt after doing what we set out to do to pose with our banner and B’nai B’rith International logo, a menorah. It expresses what we’re all about.”
Programs like this are possible with the generous support of donors. Click here make a donation.
B’nai B’rith International commends the Catholic Church and the city of Rome for denying recently deceased Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke burial in the Italian capital following his death on Oct. 11, while serving out a life sentence under house arrest.
Priebke, an SS captain, was convicted of overseeing the massacre of 335 Italians in the Ardeatine Caves just outside of Rome, including personally murdering some of the victims. In 1994, after living in Argentina for 50 years, ABC News tracked Priebke down and interviewed him on the TV show “Primetime,” on which he nonchalantly discussed his murderous past. Following the interview, Priebke was extradited to Italy with the help of B’nai B’rith International and its then-President Tommy Baer, who worked directly with the Argentine president. Priebke was tried and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 1997.
“It’s truly repulsive that this criminal was able to live much of his life uninterrupted, after he prematurely ended the lives of so many,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “It’s a source of pride that B’nai B’rith played a major role in bringing Priebke to justice. While it doesn’t undo any of the evil he committed, all those affected by the Nazis can take solace in the fact that he was not able to live out his final years in comfort.”
Both the Vatican and the mayor of Rome declared Priebke would not be buried in the city, but the reactionary Catholic group Society of Saint Pius X offered Priebke a funeral in the Rome suburb of Albano Laziale. The Oct. 16 funeral was halted by police after protestors converged on the hearse carrying Priebke’s remains and clashed with fascist sympathizers. Police also prevented Priebke’s friends and relatives from entering the local church.
The Nazi’s body remains in limbo. The Argentine foreign minister denied a request that Priebke be buried in Argentina, and his hometown of Hennigsdorf, Germany also denied a burial request.
“The Catholic Church and the city of Rome did the right thing in denying Priebke a funeral. He was a vile criminal, and on top of his atrocious involvement in the murder of 335 Italian citizens—including 75 Jews—he was complicit in deportation of Italian Jews to Auschwitz,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “The work that led to his extradition in 1995 and now the denial of multiple burial requests serve as a reminder of how important it is to educate people on the evil acts of Holocaust perpetrators and to always honor the memories of their victims.”
Organization Celebrates 170 Years of Service to the Jewish Community and the World
B’nai B’rith International will celebrate its German Jewish founders at a 170th-anniversary event honoring Dr. Ruth Westheimer on Oct. 22. The event, sponsored by Lufthansa German Airlines, will be held at the German consulate in New York City and will recognize B’nai B’rith’s 17-decades of service to the Jewish community and the world.
The 12 German Jewish immigrants who founded B’nai B’rith on Oct. 13, 1843, at Sinsheimer’s Café on New York City’s Lower East Side were dedicated to positive Jewish contributions in their new home. Now 170 years later, B’nai B’rith International continues this mission as the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. B’nai B’rith is dedicated to fighting for human rights, combating anti-Semitism, providing disaster relief, advocating for Israel and supporting seniors.
Westheimer, best known as “Dr. Ruth,” was sent by her German Orthodox family to safety in Switzerland at the age of 10 to escape the Nazi genocide against the Jews. Her family, left behind in Germany, perished in the Holocaust. After years in an orphanage in Switzerland, Westheimer immigrated to Palestine at the age of 17, where she joined the precursor to the Israel Defense Forces and fought in Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.
B’nai B’rith will present Westheimer with an award entitled: “For a Life’s Career of the Betterment of Humanity Throughout the World.”
B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs noted: “On our 170th anniversary, we pay tribute to our founders’ commitment to the betterment of humanity by recognizing Dr. Ruth and her enduring spirit.”
The event includes both Israel and Germany’s consuls general in New York, Ido Aharoni and Busso von Alvensleben respectively.
“After 17 decades, we are still following the noble vision that the Jewish immigrant founders set out for this organization—working to make the world a better place,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
B’nai B’rith International has issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International is cautiously optimistic that a temporary budget and debt ceiling deal, announced by the Senate leadership, will be passed on the House floor and then expeditiously moved through the Senate, avoiding the first ever U.S. debt default and ending the government shutdown.
As the country teeters at the brink of default at the 11th hour, if this deal should fall apart, it could have traumatic impacts on both the domestic and international economies, and severely impact seniors and other vulnerable people.
The immediate impact of a default on the country’s debt would mean the drying up of Social Security payments possibly within the first few weeks. This is an outcome that is entirely possible and also entirely unacceptable.
Of elderly Social Security beneficiaries, 23 percent of married couples and about 46 percent of unmarried recipients rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income. For millions more, Social Security is more than half their income. This would put many seniors in dire straits when it comes to paying their bills, for food and for medical treatment. This is not to mention the multitude of other services that are in serious jeopardy should the government default on its loans, such as meal programs, personal care services and other things on which they rely. These same services have already been threatened and even limited by the government shutdown.
Time has simply run out. We urge Congress to do two things: pass an immediate fix to open the government and raise the debt ceiling, and avoid a similar debacle when these short-term fixes end. Defaulting would be an unprecedented disaster, one that is sure to hurt millions of Americans, especially seniors, and should not be treated as political football.