Nearly 100 Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) brothers from North America, Europe and Israel gathered at B’nai Brith Canada headquarters earlier this month to take part in a Hineni project sponsored by B’nai B’rith International. The brothers ate lunch and socialized with senior citizens as part of an enrichment conference stressing Jewish identity in an intergenerational forum.
B’nai B’rith staff and AEPi brothers facilitated games of bingo, ate pizza and swapped stories with residents from Toronto senior housing facilities.
Connecting the seniors with students created some unique intergenerational bonds. One such encounter occurred for Calgary University brother Shane Hamilton.
“I sat down with a lovely lady named Esther, who was from Lithuania and had survived the Holocaust. My grandmother was also from Lithuania; she escaped the Holocaust and her name was also Esther,” Hamilton said. “I thought that was pretty cool. This project has been a great way to get involved with the community, and I would recommend it for anyone.”
This is the eighth year of their partnership and fifth year that B’nai B’rith teamed with AEPi for a community service project as part of the fraternity’s annual international convention. Previous projects include assembling disaster kits, rebuilding a park in New Orleans destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and repainting a community centre in New York damaged by Super Storm Sandy.
“The ties that bind AEPi and B’nai B’rith are strong. From working together to help communities recover from disasters to walking together to bring Holocaust awareness to college campuses, B’nai B’rith and AEPi share similar goals and values,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “We continue to be impressed with the level of dedication to global human rights issues and support of Israel that the AEPi brothers demonstrate on a day-to-day basis.”
B’nai B’rith is the largest Jewish sponsor of government housing in North America, offering 45 facilities and thousands of apartment units in 29 communities between the United States and Canada.
Alpha Epsilon Pi is the largest fraternity of any kind in Canada and carries a mission of helping each student to develop character, responsibility and a proper set of Jewish values.
“I’m thrilled to talk about AEPi’s relationship with B’nai B’rith,” AEPi Executive Director Andy Borans said. “This Hineni program was fabulous, the way that the brothers interacted with the residents. I think both of our groups benefit tremendously from this partnership.”
For 25 years, B'nai B'rith International has proudly served as the North American sponsor for the Yom Hashoah program "Unto Every Person There Is A Name."
While much of the coverage has centered on ceremonies in the United States, one very special ceremony took place on the steps of city hall in Montreal, Canada.
Read an excerpt of the story printed in The Suburban, and click through to the full story below:
B’nai Brith Canada held its annual ceremony on the steps of Montreal city hall Monday to remember the individual victims of the Holocaust.
Dignitaries, led by Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, read the names of the victims. Six candles representing the six million Jews killed by the Nazis were lit by St. Laurent councillor Maurice Cohen and Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand; Côte St. Luc councillors Dida Berku and Mitchell Brownstein; Hampstead mayor William Steinberg and wife Doris; Côte des Neiges/NDG mayor Russell Copeman and councillor Lionel Perez, and Pierrefonds-Roxboro mayor Jim Beis; Outremont councillor Mindy Pollak; and D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum.
They, and Project Montréal leader Richard Bergeron, also read names.
Harvey Levine, Quebec regional director of B’nai Brith Canada, said the purpose of the ceremony is to make sure the victims of the Holocaust are never forgotten.
“We also recall all of the non-Jewish victims of the Nazis,” he added. “B’nai Brith commemorates ‘unto every person there is a name’ in the hope it will strengthen the memory and the bond between past and present intended to combat ignorance, indifference and denial of the Holocaust, and to unite the community to fight anti-Semitism and racism.”