Read the wrap-up of a visit to Israel by 11 journalists from six Latin American countries, hosted by the B’nai B’rith...
Wherever there is a need, there is B’nai B’rith.
Our Mission and Work
B’nai B’rith International is a staunch defender of the State of Israel, advocates for global Jewry and champions the cause of human rights. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in combatting anti-Semitism, promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a leader in disaster relief and assisting communities in crisis, a provider of safe and affordable housing for low-income older adults and a tireless advocate on behalf of seniors.
Since our founding in 1843, B’nai B’rith has focused on making the world a safer and more tolerant place.
With a presence in countries around the world, B’nai B’rith is the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
B’nai B’rith is rooted in these major pillars:
Human Rights and Public Policy We monitor and combat anti-Semitism and other human rights abuses around the world. We challenge the odious Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement wherever it emerges. B’nai B’rith is dedicated to illuminating the hatred of Jews as a distinct and unique social illness, and to marshaling efforts to combat and, where possible, eradicate this phenomenon. We work diligently to prompt officials to fight anti-Semitism at all levels, delivering that message to governments and intergovernmental bodies, while taking action on college campuses and speaking out in the media.
Through our office of intercommunal affairs, we play an active role cultivating religious tolerance and cooperation internationally.
Supporting and Defending Israel We are a staunch supporter and defender of Israel at the United Nations and its affiliated agencies, in world capitals and in a variety of international organizations. We fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and other manifestations of contemporary anti-Semitism that are based on castigation and/or hatred of Israel.
Our World Center in Jerusalem is our connection to a wide range of Israeli governmental, academic and cultural institutions. The World Center promotes strong Israel-Diaspora relations. It is the voice of the B’nai B’rith community to the Israeli government, national institutions and the nongovernmental organization (NGO) community in Israel. The World Center sponsors cultural programs and interchange. A founding member of IsraAid, the World Center works with many other Israeli relief organizations providing aid to disaster-stricken parts of the world.
Senior Advocacy and Housing We are the largest national Jewish sponsor of non-sectarian federally subsidized housing for older adults in the United States, with 38 buildings in 28 communities, providing affordable housing for more than 5,000 people. Working in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), B’nai B’rith makes rental apartments available for senior citizens with limited incomes. B’nai B’rith senior housing is open to all qualified individuals as defined by HUD, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, handicap or national origin. This unparalleled expertise in protecting seniors and advocating on aging issues gives us the ability to also serve as a respected voice on a myriad of issues affecting seniors, including—but not limited to—aging in place, Social Security and Medicare.
Helping Communities and Disaster Relief B’nai B’rith has raised funds to help the victims of disasters around the world since 1865. Our commitment to helping communities lasts long after first-responders have done their critical work. B’nai B’rith volunteers are also active in their local communities with a wide variety of projects including distributing holiday-appropriate food for elderly Jewish residents who would otherwise be unable to access it, collecting and distributing day-old baked goods to shelters and schools to feed the hungry and providing stuffed “Buddy Bears” to comfort hospitalized children.
B'nai B'rith International
B’nai B’rith has not strayed far from its roots, but rather allowed these roots to grow and flourish in countries across the globe. No other Jewish organization can point to a longer, more all-encompassing history of service to Jews and all people around the world.
With a dedicated Office of U.N. Affairs and accredited representation at U.N. agencies worldwide, B’nai B’rith has been at the forefront of Jewish engagement with the world body since 1945. B’nai B’rith is committed to holding the U.N. accountable to its essential founding values and aspirations. B’nai B’rith is committed to advocating for fair treatment of Israel at the world body and its affiliates. We have representation at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva and UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in Paris.
B’nai B’rith International has a full-time presence in Brussels, the home of the European Union, where we advocate for Jewish issues at European institutions and work to strengthen EU-Israel relations.
Since we launched our first lodge in Latin America in 1926 in Panama City, Panama, B’nai B’rith has maintained a strong presence across the region, which enables us to closely follow the most important developments and advocate for policies and programs that positively impact the local Jewish population and Israel. We partner with other organizations to ensure that anti-Semitism and Holocaust education, for instance, are a focus at the governmental and local agency levels.
With a membership across Latin America, B’nai B’rith represents these constituents at the Organization of American States (OAS), which consists of governments and civil society organizations from 34 countries and is the most influential political body in the Americas. The OAS deals with economic, social and political matters affecting the region and the world.
U.S. Presidents Salute B'nai B'rith: Building a Better World
Since our founding in 1843, B’nai B’rith has been a leader in the fields of human rights, community service and philanthropy. Our vital work around the globe, spanning three centuries, has been recognized by U.S. presidents and other world leaders. From Glover Cleveland to Donald Trump, American presidents have acknowledged that B’nai B’rith’s commitment to promoting programs of tolerance and diversity, enhancing cooperation between all races and religions, serving the vulnerable and advancing human rights has enriched not only the Jewish people, but all people.
See what presidents of the United States have to say about B’nai B’rith’s work.
In 1843, Henry Jones and 11 other German-Jewish immigrants gathered in Sinsheimer’s Café on New York’s Lower East Side to confront what Isaac Rosenbourg, one of B’nai B’rith’s founders, called “the deplorable condition of Jews in this, our newly adopted country.”
Thus, B’nai B’rith (children of the covenant) was born.
The original members’ first concrete action was creating an insurance policy that awarded members’ widows $30 toward funeral expenses, and a stipend of one dollar a week for the rest of their lives. Each child would also receive a stipend and, for male children, assurance he would be taught a trade.
It is from this basis of humanitarian aid and service that a system of fraternal lodges and chapters grew in the United States and, eventually, around the world.
Many of the earliest achievements of B’nai B’rith represented firsts within the Jewish community. Some notable early highlights:
- In 1851, Covenant Hall was erected in New York as the first Jewish community center in the United States.
- One year later, B’nai B’rith established the Maimonides Library in New York, the first Jewish public library in the United States.
- Immediately following the Civil War B’nai B’rith founded the 200-bed Cleveland Jewish Orphan Home, described as the most modern orphanage of its time.
- In 1868, when a devastating flood crippled Baltimore, Maryland, B’nai B’rith responded with a disaster relief campaign. This commitment to emergency aid preceded the founding of the American Red Cross by 13 years and was the first of many domestic and international relief programs that continue to this day.
- That same year, B’nai B’rith sponsored its first overseas philanthropic project, raising funds to aid the victims of a cholera epidemic in pre-state Israel.