As the world’s leading Jewish organization, B’nai B’rith is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism as well as promoting tolerance and intergroup understanding around the globe. B’nai B’rith International’s long history of advocacy on issues of importance in the global community is brought to action through the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy. With representation at United Nations forums in New York, Geneva, Paris, Vienna and Santiago as well as representation at the European Union, European Parliament and Mercosur, B’nai B’rith works with key government officials, prominent business people and world leaders to formulate landmark coalitions advocating civil rights, humanitarian assistance and nonsectarian services for seniors. B’nai B’rith’s Middle East policy includes issues such as fighting terrorism; supporting Israel’s right to defend itself; preventing Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons; and supporting direct negotiations between the parties to the Middle East conflict while affirming the primacy of Israel’s critical security needs.
The mission and programs of B’nai B’rith have long been supported by innovative and forward-thinking individuals and corporations around the world. With your support, B’nai B’rith will continue our service as one of this nation’s most vibrant, long-standing and respected non-profit organizations – helping millions of people from all corners of the globe and in all walks of life.
Read Our CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin’s speech from our 175th Anniversary Gala on October 15, 2018 in New York City Below:
In 1843, as the rise of industry led to the gradual dissolution of rural, agrarian society, mounting anger and frustration borne out of poverty and famine, would trigger an unraveling, occurring five years later, as revolutions ignited the continent and ushered in modern times. Calling for new democratic systems of government, Europeans were brought to the brink, their demands for a decent quality of life signaled a new way of experiencing the world. Certainly, a more personal art—engaging the emotions — would flourish at this time, and it was in 1843 that Dickens, Delacroix, Verdi, Mendelssohn and, in America, Poe, produced some of their greatest works. For Jews, change was significant: as ghetto walls crumbled, the influence of the outside world would irrevocably alter their insular existence.
Already bustling, New York was home to one of the world’s busiest ports, while the restless impulse to venture beyond the known, defined American identity. The first stirrings of protest against the institution of slavery were beginning to reverberate in all regions. It was in 1843 that pioneers first traveled west by wagon train from Missouri…and in the next two decades, so did B’nai B’rith, where lodges were to thrive even in the rough and ready mining enclaves of California, Nevada, and Colorado. Continuing to insure our families, we expanded our mission as now-affluent members demonstrated their civic pride by supporting libraries, orphanages, and hospitals, while monies raised for humanitarian assistance helped people of all faiths during floods, earthquakes, fires and epidemics. By the end of the 19th century, those who joined the Order, as it was called, were among the nation’s most distinguished citizens. Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise, the father of American Reform Judaism, founded Cincinnati’s Hebrew Union College. Ulysses Grant appointed B’nai B’rith president B.F. Peixotto as consul to Romania, where his efforts improved life for its brutalized Jewish populace. A lawyer and journalist, Peixotto was the first editor of B’nai B’rith’s magazine, continuously published since 1887. Maintaining friendships with presidents from Lincoln and Grant to Theodore Roosevelt and Wilson, B’nai B’rith leader Simon Wolf spoke for Jewish interests in Washington. Ohio senator Judge Alfred P. Cohen, Dr. Wise’s student and the son of one of B’nai B’rith’s first members, crusaded for equal rights for Jews and African Americans. He served as B’nai B’rith’s president from 1925 through 1937.
Addressing new issues, B’nai B’rith offered language and “Americanization” classes to Eastern European immigrants in 1900, brought social workers to the tenements and prisons, and supported industrial schools in New York and Philadelphia. Justifying its reputation as “The Great Incubator,” the organization renamed “B’nai B’rith International” would initiate the Anti-Defamation League, dedicated to educating both Jews and Christians about ways in which crass stereotypes fomented prejudice, and push back against pressure to assimilate or convert by connecting high school and college students with their heritage at the AZA, and Hillel, later united under the umbrella “B’nai B’rith Youth Organizations.” Among B’nai B’rith’s dynamic presidents, the Omaha-based Henry Monsky motivated members to raise millions of dollars to defeat Hitler, while our men and women volunteers surpassed all other fraternal organizations with their war work; he is remembered as an advocate for pre-state Israel who took a prominent in the planning stages of the United Nations. His successor from Massachusetts, Frank Goldman, encouraged Eddie Jacobson to intercede with his longtime friend, President Harry Truman, who officially recognized the state of Israel in 1948. Goldman played a leading role in helping to revive the European lodges after the tragedy of the Holocaust and was instrumental in discussions that culminated in Germany’s restitution to the Nazis’ victims. Representing a new generation of Jewish leaders, Philip Klutznick, a Chicago builder whose lifelong involvement in B’nai B’rith became the training ground for his presidency from 1953-59, met directly with world leaders to actively defend Jewish rights, spearheaded political and economic alliance between Israel and the United States, and promoted ADL’s history-making legal activities on behalf of school integration.
Active from 1882, the members of B’nai B’rith’s German lodges were selected for their demonstrated philanthropic history and professional backgrounds. These men were physicians, lawyers, leaders in business, architects, clergy, academics and established authors and artists. In Eastern European countries, and in the near east and the Orient, where B’nai B’rith was committed to modern education for students for all ages, we supported institutions for the sick and the poor, funded libraries, published books and contributed to the arts, and interceded with government leaders when Jewish people were threatened with anti-Semitic violence. In retrospect, the record of both the men’s’ lodges and the women’s auxiliaries was more than remarkable, particularly during World War I, when B’nai B’rith sustained thousands of refugees and abandoned children, supplied the battlefields with doctors and nurses, and raised money for their nations’ military campaigns.
In the 20th century, the greatest Jewish minds in Europe and Asia ascribed to the values promulgated by the culture of B’nai B’rith. In Austria, Sigmund Freud’s groundbreaking psychoanalytic theories were denigrated by anti-Semitic medical professionals, but he never forgot his Vienna Lodge brothers, who listened, considered and engaged in thoughtful discussion with him. His student, Helene Deutsch, a social activist who pioneered in the field of women’s therapy in Europe and the United States, was a member of the auxiliary, as was Anitte Muller, “the angel of Vienna,” who established dozens of day care and nursing centers for impoverished Austrian women and their babies, and who arranged for the adoption of hundreds of orphans both before and during World War I.
Revered during his life and in our own time, Rabbi Leo Baeck, president of B’nai B’rith’s German lodges for nearly 20 years, tended to the needs of the Jewish community as its representative during the Nazi era, as he attempted to alleviate their poverty and helped many to immigrate. Refusing opportunities to leave them, he suffered as a prisoner in Theresienstadt. Embodying the moral values that were the basis of his theology, he served as rabbi to his fellow inmates, putting their needs before his, and after the war, shepherded the rebirth of the European lodges from the ashes of the death camps. The legacy left by rabbi, biblical scholar, historian and member of the Polish senate, Moses Schorr, a leader of District 13 in the years before World War II, includes his books about B’nai B’rith which promote the organization’s principals as the basis for an ideal future society. He wrote that: The union of Bnai Brith as an international organization is …characterized by two fundamental principles: the idea of solidarity of all the Jews in the entire world … the idea of universalism of humanity, the brotherhood of all the peoples and nations…. These two ideas I consider for the highest goal of our spiritual and intellectual program….
Keeping alive the spirit of “tzedaka” which informs all that do, B’nai B’rith today continues as a force in Jewish life, influencing public policy on fronts which impact thousands of people globally. Taking a stand for justice and against anti-Semitism at the UN, we advocate for Israel at meetings of the Human Rights Council and UNESCO. Our Diverse Minds competition for high school students receives praise for its innovative approach to tolerance education.
From the post-war years until today, B’nai B’rith has played an integral role in procuring restitution and care for Holocaust survivors in many countries. Standing up for the rights of senior citizens, and helping to safeguard programs for their wellbeing, we launched a partnership with HUD in 1971 which to date has resulted in the construction of 38 properties in 28 communities, producing an inventory of 4500 high quality apartments. As such, we are the largest national Jewish sponsor of subsidized housing in the United States.
Still occurring, now with greater frequency, are devastating natural and man-made disasters hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, sickness and, floods. Since the 1860s, we have reached out to assist survivors in the nations where these events occur.
Less than a 12-minute drive from here to what was called “Little Germany” in 1843 an organization whose pillars were, in the words of historian Cornelia Wilhelm “based on construction of explicitly civil Jewish virtues—reason, education, character, morality—allowing them to unfold on a society-wide basis.” Initiated by a compassionate gesture, the donation of $27 to a needy widow, B’nai B’rith and its work adheres to continuously changing needs both within and outside of the Jewish community. As Jews and citizens, our presence made a difference in each country, as we acted on the vision of a just and compassionate world, even in the worst of times, and even when our own almost succumbed to unimaginable cruelty and hatred. Rebounding from the adversities which we suffered, we look to the future as a time when more and more men and women might join us to make the world a better place.
Support B’nai B’rith International
“For more than 140 years, B’nai B’rith has sponsored religious, cultural, and civil programs; conducted studies of vital issues; combated bigotry; and worked tirelessly to advance the cause of tolerance and humanity. Because of your efforts, today our country has a bigger heart, a deeper sense of generosity of spirit that must always define America.”
“You’ve been there to help those in need in your own neighborhoods, establishing local volunteer efforts, helping the blind, settling refugees from the former Soviet Union, combating the scourge of drugs, and working to strengthen the education of young Americans … What guides you is a belief in a covenant that we all share to enrich the lives of those around you, to fight bigotry, to protect liberty.”
“Since 1843 B’nai B’rith has been dedicated to helping those in need and preserving the rich traditions of Jewish life … I commend the men and women of B’nai B’rith for your leadership and service. Your efforts improve the lives of countless individuals and remind us that we must be vigilant in our pursuit of freedom, tolerance and compassion.”
George W. Bush
“B’nai B’rith International has helped open our eyes to injustice and to people in need for 170 years. By providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief, promoting human rights and volunteerism, and offering a strong voice for the Jewish community around the world, organizations like yours help us live up to our basic belief that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.”
Over the past 175 years, B’nai B’rith International has enhanced the lives of Jewish people and of many others around the world through charity, volunteerism, educational programs, and advocacy efforts. These achievements extend far beyond one community or one country, and they reflect a sustained commitment to enriching the spirit of humanity.
DONALD J. TRUMP
B’nai B’rith’s Tax ID number is: 53-0179971.
B’nai B’rith International
c/o 175th Anniversary Committee
1120 20th Street, NW, Suite 300 N
Washington, DC 20036