In a letter to the Department of Education, the House of Representatives Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism, members of Congress " sounded the alarm about a troubling surge in anti-Semitism on American college campuses."
In the press release accompanying the letter, B'nai B'rith International is listed among the organizations that support the letter and are actively fighting anti-Semitism and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movements on campuses across the country.
The Jerusalem Post ran an article detailing the anti-Israel motions authorized by UNESCO's executive board, the biggest of which ignores Jewish ties to the Western Wall. In the article, B'nai B'rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin are quoted.
Click here to read the article on JPost.com
Resolution refers to Temple Mount area solely as Al-Aksa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif, except for two references to the Western Wall Plaza that were put in parenthesis.
UNESCO's Executive Board in Paris on Friday adopted a resolution whose language ignored Jewish ties to the holy religious site of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall area in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The broad ranging resolution condemned Israeli actions in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. But the resolution focused in large part on Israeli actions with regard to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall Plaza.
All three major monotheistic religions — Judaism, Christian and Islam — consider the Temple Mount to be a holy site.
But the UNESCO resolution referred to the Temple Mount area solely as the Al-Aksa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif, except for two references to the Western Wall Plaza that were put in parenthesis.
The text also referred to the plaza area by the Western Wall as the Al-Buraq Plaza.
Last October, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization backed away from reclassifying the Western Wall as solely a Muslim holy site. This spring it simply used language that almost solely referred to it as such.
April’s resolution did reaffirm, however, that the Mughrabi Ascent that starts at the Western Wall plaza is an integral and inseparable part of Al-Aksa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.
The resolution called for on Israel to restore the situation on the Temple Mount to what it had been prior to September 2000, when the Second Intifada broke out. At that time, according to the resolution, the Jordan Wakf full control of the Al-Aksa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif to include work on maintenance and restoration as well as regulating access.
The site is under the full authority, but not full control, of the Islamic Wakf.
UNESCO called on Israel not to restrict Muslim worshipers from accessing the Al-Aksa Mosque site and condemned the violence that occurred there in the fall, but solely focused on Israeli actions in those incidents and not on the violence of the Muslim rioters at the site.
It condemned Israeli plans to build a prayer space for Women of the Wall by Robinson’s Arch, although it did not mention the group by name.
The resolution also charged that Israel had planed “Jewish fake graves” in other Muslim cemeteries located on Wakf property east and south of the Al-Aksa mosque.
The 58-member board approved the resolution 19 with 33 votes in favor, six against and 17 abstention. Two countries, Ghana and Turkmenistan were absent all together.
Those countries who opposed it outright were: Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
France, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Russia and Slovenia were among those countries who supported the resolution.
A second resolution that more globally condemned Israeli actions, passed with 45 votes in favor, 1 vote against and 11 abstentions.
The Foreign Ministry had not response to the vote. B’nai Brith International President Gary P. Saltzman said that, “With this resolution, UNESCO has seemingly lowered itself to the depths of bizarre conspiracy theories.
“These one-sided resolutions are being used to further the Palestinian narrative, which only prolongs the conflict and which, once again, speaks to the continuing bias of the U.N. and its agencies,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.
New Haven Register: Connecticut B’nai B’rith brings smiles, kosher for Passover food to needy families
Project HOPE was a HUGE success in Connecticut this year, with 380 kosher meals packed for families who might not have been able to secure the necessary supplies.
The New Haven Register covered the program, calling the operation a "well-oiled machine."
"The program brings a smile to many faces in need," B’nai B’rith leader Harold Miller told the paper.
WOODBRIDGE >> Some 380 families in the region who may not be able otherwise to eat kosher for the Passover holiday, which begins Friday at sundown, will get the proper matzo, gefilte fish, macaroons and more, thanks to food packages put together and distributed Sunday through the region’s leadership ofB’nai B’rith International.
The organization’s Project H.O.P.E. oversees the undertaking that had volunteers young and old packing and grouping bags like a well-oiled machine out of the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven for folks from New Haven to Greenwich.
Now in its 40th year, the program brings a smile to many faces in need, said B’nai B’rith leader Harold Miller, who has been in charge of the program in this region for more than 25 years.
“When you see the smiles and hear the ‘thank-yous’ there’s no substitute for that,” said Miller, who also plays Santa Claus at the Veterans hospital in West Haven Christmas Eve.
“Once you get into the mode of community service, it’s a family thing,” Miller said. His wife Bobbie, a guidance counselor at Amity Middle School in Orange and son Steven, an actor, were among the volunteers.
The need has remained steady through the decades, he said, noting 135 families in New Haven would receive the packages, 100 in Bridgeport, 15 in Greenwich, 30 in New London and in other communities.
The money for the items come from fundraising, including donations from groups such as the Masons, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, New Haven Jewish Federation, the federation of Waterbury and from “giving” individuals, Miller said.
Passover marks the Jews’ freedom from slavery and being able to leave Egypt where they were enslaved. The Jews were freed after 10 plagues were brought upon Egypt, each harsher than the previous one. The last plague was the slaying of the first born.
When the pharaoh finally let the people go, they had to leave right away — some 600,000 — so there was no chance for the mothers to finish baking their bread. The bread didn’t have a chance to rise because they had to leave.
To commemorate that, during Passover, there is no bread, rolls, cake or other leavened products allowed. The food eaten during the holiday must be kosher for Passover, meaning more restrictions than everyday kosher food.
Products manufactured with care and supervision during Passover, when Seder dinners take place, don’t contain wheat, barley, oats, rye or spelt, Miller said.
Often, because the there is so much involved in producing the products, they are pricier than their non-kosher for Passover counterparts, Miller said.
Aside from matzo, gefilte fish and macaroons, Sunday’s care packages — which were mostly distributed through helping agencies — included chamomile/mint herbal tea, matzo ball soup mix, pineapple tidbits, chocolate-covered marshmallows, apple sauce, borscht with beets and grape juice.
Tyler Pepe, who belonged the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization while growing up, and was a Project H.O.P.E. volunteer, now works with Jewish youth himself and brought a group to help out Sunday.
“It’s important to pass on the character-building thing for the youth,” he said. Good deeds or mitzvahs are central to the Jewish religion.
Algemeiner: Major Jewish Organizations Decry Bernie Sanders’ ‘Wildly Inaccurate’ Claim That ‘Over 10,000 Innocent People Killed in Gaza'; Candidate Disputes Account
The Algemeiner quoted Executive Vice President Daniel Mariaschin harshly criticizing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for claiming more than 10,000 people died in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.
“… Let’s not even start with the wild inaccuracy of his number. Let’s talk about the fact that he didn’t even mention Hamas’ use of the population it rules in Gaza as human shields in those hospitals and apartment buildings he was referring to. Nor did he point out that Israel sent unprecedented warnings to the civilian population in Gaza to evacuate areas it was going to target, by dropping leaflets, sending emails and making phone calls – a practice unique to Israel during wartime.”
Click here to read the full article on Algemeiner.com
American Jewish leaders decried an allegation about Israel made by Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders during a meeting with the editorial board of the New York Daily News last Friday.
Responding to Sanders’ “recollection” that “over 10,000 innocent people were killed in Gaza” – during Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war against Hamas in the summer of 2014 — when “a whole lot of apartment houses were leveled” and “hospitals… bombed,” the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) and B’nai B’rith told The Algemeiner on Thursday why they were so incensed.
“The road to Senator Sanders’ repetition of this outrageous slander started with Hamas lies and the failure of an intimidated media in Gaza to do little but publish the original blood libel in their dispatches and mouth them on air,” SWC Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said. “But that is no excuse for a veteran senator, running for the presidency of the United States, who always had access to the real story. Secondly, his narrative doesn’t include the thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza, and Hamas’ ongoing strategy of using its civilian infrastructure as a shield against Israel.”
Cooper was referring to the terrorist organization’s inflated death-toll numbers, and its use of populated apartment buildings, hospitals and even UN-run schools as bases for weapons caches and rocket-launching pads – both to prevent Israel from attacking the sites and to incur civilian casualties to present as statistics for foreign consumption.
He called on Sanders — who also told the Daily News, “I do believe and I don’t think I’m alone in believing that Israel’s force was more indiscriminate than it should have been” — to “immediately acknowledge that he made a huge error and apologize to the people of Israel.”
B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin was equally harsh in his criticism of the candidate.
“It appears that Sanders has accepted the Palestinian narrative on the Gaza war whole cloth,” he told The Algemeiner. “But let’s not even start with the wild inaccuracy of his number. Let’s talk about the fact that he didn’t even mention Hamas’ use of the population it rules in Gaza as human shields in those hospitals and apartment buildings he was referring to. Nor did he point out that Israel sent unprecedented warnings to the civilian population in Gaza to evacuate areas it was going to target, by dropping leaflets, sending emails and making phone calls – a practice unique to Israel during wartime.”
By failing to provide the context, Mariaschin said, Sanders was presenting the Hamas narrative, something that is “unacceptable.”
“We have had enough problems on this score without presidential candidates engaging in discourse that is full of wild inaccuracies on what happened during Operation Protective Edge. He should have educated himself before speaking about it, and it is now important that he do so for the future.”
Sanders, he said, “should issue not only a correction, but an apology.”
Jewish Journal ran a a great profile piece on spinal surgeon and philanthropist Dr. Gary Michelson.In December B'nai B'rith International bestowed the Distinguished Achievement Award on Michelson, an award that recognizes exceptional individuals and honors them for their community service, dedicated leadership and commitment to improving the lives of the individuals they serve.
Click here to read the full story on JewishJournal.com
When Dr. Gary K. Michelson was 7, he was sitting at the Formica table in his grandmother’s kitchen in Philadelphia when he smelled the odor of burning flesh. “She was at the stove, and I turned around, and she was just leaning her hand on a burner, and I could see flames coming up through her fingers,” Michelson recalled of his grandmother. “I screamed, and then she doused out her hand in the sink. And she said, ‘That’s nothing; I do that all the time.’ ”
For decades, Michelson’s grandmother had suffered from syringomyelia, a spinal disease that causes wracking back pain and also pain and insensitivity to temperature in the hands and feet. She simply could not feel the flames licking at her fingers.
Michelson’s grandmother had already visited top syringomyelia experts at the time; her physician had advised her husband that there was nothing to do for her except buy her a wheelchair. Through sheer determination, she continued to walk, even though her back was so crooked she couldn’t stand up straight.
“One day,” she told her grandson, “you’ll become a doctor, and you’ll fix me.”
Sitting in his airy Brentwood home, Michelson tells the story as if the distant memory is still raw. At 67, he is now a retired orthopedic surgeon, prolific medical inventor and a groundbreaking, renowned philanthropist — shaped by what he calls the “nightmare” of his grandmother’s suffering.
After he left home at 17, Michelson did just what his grandmother said, working odd jobs to put himself through Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University), from which he earned his medical degree in 1975. In 1980, he moved west to set up a practice in Los Angeles. There, he developed and patented more than 900 medical procedures and devices that have revolutionized spinal surgery.
In 2004, Michelson prevailed in a licensing lawsuit brought against him by the medical technology megacorporation Medtronic. After the company’s unsuccessful attempt to take the rights to Michelson’s medical inventions, he received a settlement of $1.35 billion, including for the purchase of a majority of the patents related to spinal technology, he said. The money made him one of the richest people in the United States, according to Forbes, and effectively launched his philanthropic career.
In his giving, Michelson continues to focus on medical research, but his reach now extends far beyond orthopedics.
In 2005, he created the Michelson Medical Research Foundation, to which he’s contributed $100 million. The goal, in part, is to develop a vaccine that will cure the estimated 1.4 billion people worldwide who suffer from debilitating parasitic worms.
His 20 Million Minds Foundation seeks to make higher education more effective and inexpensive, including by placing textbooks online for college students who cannot afford them, along with interactive content.
Michelson’s Found Animals Foundation, which runs a website promoting pet adoption and advice on microchips, among other things, is offering $50 million in grant research funds as well as a $25 million prize to scientists who can discover a way to chemically spay and neuter animals with a single, low-cost injection.
And, in 2014, Michelson and his wife, Alya, donated $50 million to the University of Southern California toward the creation of a convergent bioscience center in hopes of producing medical breakthroughs. “We’re going to cure cancer; we’re going to cure heart disease,” he said, ebulliently. “There’s stuff going on there right now that’s going to change the world.”
The center already has achieved a major breakthrough enabling scientists to refine and improve the effectiveness of a tool that can remove any gene in the body and replace it with another.
It’s hardly science for science’s sake. “I have been talking to people for a long time about what I consider the major defect in academic science, which I call heads-down research,” Michelson said. “I [know someone] who’s absolutely brilliant, but he put his face to a microscope 50 years ago, and then when he was old, he stood up and went his own way. How did the world benefit from that? They tell you it’s science for science’s sake, and they’re proud of it. But you’re not helping anybody; nothing’s happening. I almost used an expletive about that. Do something that will help people now, and build on that.”
USC President C.L. Max Nikias said Michelson’s $50 million grant is one of the larger gifts the university has received. “This is a brilliant, brilliant individual who truly believes in making a difference,” Nikias said in a telephone interview. “He really cares about the human condition.”
In conversation, the tall, imposing Michelson is bold, no-nonsense and a natural raconteur, peppering his discourse with references to sources as diverse as George Bernard Shaw, William Somerset Maugham and even “Star Trek.” He sat on a couch in his den with his 10-year-old white whippet, Gracie, cuddled up beside him.
“I rescued her out of this woman’s chicken-wire coop,” he said. Michelson’s other dog, a pit bull named Honey, was discovered bleeding and left to die in the street, with her side slashed and her muzzle taped shut. “And yet she’s the sweetest dog in the world,” he said.
In December, when Michelson was honored by B’nai B’rith International with its distinguished achievement award, he did not speak about himself, but rather lauded the people who run his foundations and showed a videotape his wife had made to celebrate their son’s second birthday. The Michelsons have three children, ages 1 to 6, and live in a home that appears modest by billionaires’ standards. He also still drives a 2000 Chrysler. “People ask, ‘Why don’t you have a Ferrari?’ ” he said. “But I don’t need that. There are people who need to be ‘big’ in the world, or grandiose, and then there are people who don’t. And getting money doesn’t change who you are. You are still whoever you were at the beginning.”
The popular Spanish-language television show Camara Testigo on Teledoce ran a special on the anti-Semitic murder of Uruguayan-Jewish community leader David Fremd. Director of Latin America Affairs Eduardo Kohn appears throughout the program and is the only Jewish voice among those interviewed. Watch the full program below!
JBS News Update covered the appointment of the UN Human Rights Council’s new special rapporteur on the Palestinian territories Michael Lynk and included B'nai B'rith International’s response to another anti-Israel selection for the position.
JBS quoted a B’nai B’rith statement saying, “This position again shows the institutionalization of bigotry at the United Nations.”
Click below to WATCH the video (Starting at the 3:17 mark)
The New Jersey Jewish News ran an article on the B'nai B'rith Young Leadership Network visit to Japan as a part of the Kakehashi Project.
B'nai B'rith Program Associate Danielle Ross and longtime B'nai B'rith supporter Adam Levoy are featured in the story, detailing the sights and lessons from a week spent immersed in another culture.
Read the full story at NJJewishNews.com
A recent visit to Japan that afforded 13 young American-Jewish activists the chance to see the country in its authenticity and meet members of its Jewish community was, according to Danielle Ross, “a great success.”
As guests of the government on a visit from March 1 to 8, the group was part of its Kakehashi Project, whose aim is “to further develop the relationship between American Jews and Japan,” said Ross of Springfield, a program associate at B’nai B’rith International in New York. Ross and Adam Levoy of Montclair, a language arts teacher at River Dell Middle School in River Edge and a fellow member of B’nai B’rith, were the only two New Jerseyans on the trip.
Levoy belongs to Congregation Beth Israel in Scotch Plains. Ross, a member of Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael in Springfield, is following her father’s deep commitment to B’nai B’rith.
Mark Ross, also of Springfield, has been involved with the organization since his teenage years as a member of the Westfield chapter of Aleph Zadik Aleph, the high school boys’ division of B’nai B’rith.
He is currently a member of the B’nai B’rith International executive committee and president of the B’nai B’rith Tri-State Region, which spans northern New Jersey, southern New York, and northeastern Pennsylvania.
His daughter is also an associate at Ross’ Shalom Chapels, which is owned and operated in Springfield, Whippany, and Chatham by Mark and his wife, Robin.
According to its website, the Kakehashi Project aims “to promote deeper mutual understanding among the people of Japan and the United States…and help young people develop wider perspectives to encourage active roles at the global level in the future.”
But for the March group — eight representatives of B’nai B’rith International’s Young Leadership Network and five of the predominantly Jewish Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity — the invitation “had a lot to do with the burgeoning relationship between Israel and Japan, as well as between Japan and the United States,” said Danielle Ross. “They wanted us to learn more about Japan.”
Japan has an estimated 2,000 Jews out of a total population of 126 million. Among the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Jewish Community Center in Tokyo.
“It has about 100 member families and it seemed based on the Conservative model, similar to Conservative shuls here, with a sanctuary, a social hall, and places for children to play,” she told NJ Jewish News in a March 11 phone interview.
“Some of the JCC members are intermarried with Japanese people and some have had conversion ceremonies. Some of the non-native Japanese were former American military personnel. Others moved to Japan for business reasons,” Ross added.
“The sanctuary was beautiful,” said Levoy in a March 14 phone interview. “We were told that Israelis who have moved to Japan are a lot more vocal and observant, whereas the Jews at the JCC are more laid back and are there for the cultural aspects.”
The delegation had no contact with the Makuya movement, a small Japanese-Christian sect founded in May 1948 at the same time Israel declared its independence. That group’s pro-Zionism is based on the belief that Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecies.
When the Kakehashi group met with a past president of the JCC, “he told us the Jews in Japan are basically like everybody else,” said Ross. “They work, sometimes they go to shul on weekends or when there is a special event. They have a seder on Passover.
“But they are very much a part of the Japanese culture, and they have embraced parts of Japanese culture that are similar to Jewish culture, such as the importance of family,” Ross said.
After the visit to Tokyo, the visitors, who ranged in age from 21 to 35, traveled to the city of Nikko, “where we visited a lot of famous shrines,” Ross said. Then they broke into small groups and spent two nights in the homes of Japanese families in the rice farming village of Ohtawara.
“We got a real sense of traditional Japanese culture, and it was a chance for the Japanese to learn about our Jewish culture. Some of the families had a grasp on English. Others did not speak English at all,” said Ross.
But wherever the Americans went, she said, they felt welcome.
“When we went to people’s homes they did not stop feeding us. They were like Jewish mothers,” she joked, noting that their hosts were “very understanding” of several of their Jewish visitors’ dietary restrictions and served vegetarian meals. They also respected the wishes of two of their guests not to travel on Shabbat.
Issues surrounding the history of United States-Japanese relations, including Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, “did come up a little,” said Ross. “We here talk a lot more about World War II than they do. But it did come up a couple of times. We learned that Japan did not expel its Jews during the war and did not have an issue with the Jews and the Jewish community.
“There is not a whole lot of anti-Semitism in Japan, but occasionally it pops up,” she added. “I think that is because they are very accepting of [different] religions in Japan.”
Both Ross and Levoy said they would like to return.
“It was amazing,” he said. “Everyone got to experience Japan in its authenticity, not as a tourist but as a person experiencing a culture. It was very peaceful and clean. The people were very hospitable.”
“I would go back again,” said Ross. “We only got a taste of Japan, but it was a great success.”
Director of B’nai B’rith Latin America Affairs Eduardo Kohn gave an extended interview to El Observador TV in Uruguay, discussing the anti-Semitic murder of 54-year-old David Fremd, an outstanding leader in the Jewish community, in Paysandu, Uruguay.
Kohn also discussed the increasing anti-Semitism and incitement to violence against Jews in Latin America and around the world.
Click below to watch the full interview in Spanish.
LISTEN: Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin made an appearance on the radio show Israeli Connection, discussing B'nai B'rith International’s recent venture to the United Nations Human Rights Council to defend Israel against the unfair attacks listed under Item 7.
Click here to listen, the interview begins at the 49:35 mark. The interview is conducted in both Hebrew and English.
In the News
B'nai B'rith International is the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
All rights reserved. Stories are attributed to the original copyright holders.