On Friday, I was honored to speak virtually with Hilah BBG chapter. The girls ran a beautiful virtual Friday night Shabbat service and after, we talked about Jewish leadership, Israel, anti-Semitism and more. They asked great questions!
I talked about my first trip to Israel, in 1998, where I attended a B’nai B’rith Convention in Jerusalem. I was 15 at the time and saw the impact of bringing B’nai B’rith members from all over the world together. I was able to participate as a BBYO delegate in elections and especially enjoyed the installation dinner. I also listened to my first Israeli singer, who was a guest performer. And I had the privilege of meeting Benjamin Netanyahu at a dinner on top of King David’s citadel. The experience definitely brought me closer to Israel and solidified my involvement in B'nai B'rith.
The girls asked about my volunteer work and I noted that my experience in BBYO and now volunteering in a Jewish organization such as B’nai B’rith International impacts my views of the world and the value I have learned—and continue to learn—about being a global citizen.
Israel advocacy and anti-Semitism were big topics of the night. We talked about the most common lies I hear about Israel—that it’s an “apartheid state”—and how to identify and respond to inaccurate allegations about Israel, as well as the connection between anti-Semitism and anti-Israel belief: anti-Israel is indeed the new anti-Semitism.
The girls asked me what I find most difficult about being a Jewish woman and advocate for Israel in the workforce. I told them that dealing with misinformation and ignorance of others is challenging but I am passionate about speaking openly to those who are willing to learn and as a result, I have had great conversations with people.
The girls were interested in how they can get involved in Israel advocacy. B’nai B’rith International is active at the United Nations in New York and its agencies around the world, such as the Human Rights Council in Geneva. B’nai B’rith leaders regularly meet with ambassadors and government leaders and our international connection gives us a voice to advocate for Israel and the Jewish people in the diaspora.
They also wanted to know about my global travels on behalf of B’nai B’rith. When they asked about the favorite place I have visited on behalf of B’nai B’rith my answer included two spots: Japan and Prague.
Perhaps the most memorable experience I have had as an advocate for Israel was meeting with Gilad Shalit in London after his release (the Israeli soldier was a Hamas hostage for more than five years). We got to dance, go out into the town and have stayed in touch via Facebook. I’ve also met with the Deputy prime minister of Japan and spoke in depth about Israel’s history and right to exist peacefully in the middle east. Japan and Israel’s positive relationship has grown in the past few years. Finally, I noted that serving as a B’nai B’rith delegate to WZO has also been an amazing experience.
And we talked about takeaways for the girls: what to keep near their hearts and minds as they move up in the world, through high school and college and beyond. I concluded by telling them that going forward in their lives, they need to question and challenge anyone who supports the BDS movement and uses anti-Israel rhetoric. They must, as Jewish leaders, know the facts and have intelligent conversation with people they encounter. I told them that many anti-Israel statements are misinformation used to promote anti-Semitism. Lastly, I told them to visit Israel, learn the history, and experience it for themselves. I promised them that after such a visit, they would leave with a piece of Israel in their hearts that will inspire their future leadership goals and endeavors and make them better advocates for Israel and the Jewish people.
We had an inspirational and motivating conversation and I am very excited about their enthusiastic participation and interest in Israel advocacy, combating anti-Semitism, leadership and B’nai B’rith’s global work. I look forward to more opportunities to speak to Jewish youth about important topics facing Jews and leadership.
Thanks to Enrique Jinchuk for taking part, from Harold Steinberg of Memphis, Tennessee, chair of the 175th Anniversary Committee.
With B'nai B'rith International's milestone 175th anniversary occurring this year, we are reminded of what an amazing story we have to tell. Below read about member Enrique Jinchuk's most meaningful moments as a B'nai B'rith member.
Please provide three meaningful memorable events that capture the best of B'nai B'rith. The events may be recent or historic.
One of the most memorable moments in our institutional life was BBI's international convention held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 2011. It was the first time BBI moved the convention site to another place instead of the United States or Israel.
Another very important moment for B'nai B'rith Uruguay's district was the birth of our political committee while our country suffered the dictatorship of our military. During this terrible period, our brothers and sisters helped many Jewish Uruguayans held as political hostages. In those days, one of the most important Uruguayan political leaders was helped by Rabbi Morton Rosenthal (director of ADL of B'nai B'rith) and escaped being shot, flying with his family to London.
In year 2008, B'nai B'rith Uruguay started the most important educational program called "Salir Adelante" in order to help Uruguayan public high school students of critical living context to complete their studies and get scholarships for university and part-time jobs.
Please name three individuals in your area who made a powerful impression on you for the work they did in B'nai B'rith. They may be living or esteemed leaders from the past. Explain your choices.
The most important B'nai B'rith Uruguay leaders in my almost fifty years of devoting to this institution were:
Dr. Jacobo Hazan, Z"L
He was the founder of a Jewish-Christian confraternity and worked in our institution for more than fifty years. He was appointed by the State of Israel as the first Israeli Ambassador in Uruguay.
Cr. Maximo Brenner, Z"L
He was B'nai B'rith Uruguay's president when our country suffered the military dictatorship and was one of the founders of our political unit. When he passed away, his family established the Fraternity Prize in his memory, a very important scholarship in different art fields.
Dr. Eduardo Kohn, executive vice president in District 28 (Uruguay-Paraguay) has provided the support for many leaders and B'nai B'rith Uruguay presidents for many years, and he is still working.
Do you have an interesting memory of B'nai B'rith events, activities or service or recall individuals who made remarkable contributions to the history and values of B'nai B'rith? Please email your descriptive responses and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
B'nai B'rith International has served as the Global Voice of the Jewish Community since 1843.