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A periodic e-newsletter from the B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem, December 2015

B’nai B’rith International Policy Forum
 
The Chairman Dr. Haim Katz and Director Alan Schneider participated in B’nai B’rith International Policy Forum in Washington D.C. Dr. Katz chaired a diplomatic session with ambassadors from Bulgaria, Croatia and Germany. Alan Schneider spoke in a “town hall” session on International issues and addressed the ongoing state of terrorism against Jews by Palestinians in Israel. To read more on this issue check out his blog on the B’nai B’rith website here.

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Maestro Ariel Britos, Founder of the System of Youth and Children Orchestras of Uruguay Visit Israel
 
Maestro Ariel Britos (b. 1969), founder of the System of Youth and Children Orchestras of Uruguay and Conductor of the highly acclaimed Sodre National Youth Orchestra, visited Israel as a guest of the B’nai B’rith World Center on October 18-28. Maestro Britos is the winner of the B’nai B’rith Uruguay “Fraternidad Award” for 2013 – presented annually to outstanding Uruguayan artists at a major ceremony at B’nai B’rith Uruguay’s hall in Montevideo, with the participation of hundreds of members, civic and political leaders and fellow artists.

Maestro Ariel Britos studied conducting of children and youth Orchestras in Venezuela, applying methods developed by Maestro José Antonio Abreu, based on studying and learning musical instruments through the “Intensive Orchestral Practice”. He is an active participant in UNESCO and OAS musical programs and was named “UNESCO Artist for Peace” in 2013 for his promotion of social intervention strategies through music. He received the “Banda del Yi” award from the Durazno Intendancy, a Distinction from the Rotary Club of Florida, the “Quijote” Award from the Cervantes College, the ‘Ariel de Oro’ award from the Ateneo de Montevideo and he was also recognized as “Golden Citizen” for two consecutive years by the Latin American Development Center.


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B’nai B’rith Uruguay has been presenting awards to outstanding artists and scientists for over 30 years to recognize excellence in various artistic and scientific disciplines in Uruguay, with winners receiving an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel. Ariel Britos was accompanied on the 10-day trip by his wife Claudia Rieiro.

​The intensive itinerary devised by the B’nai B’rith World Center combined tourism, professional interchange, site visits and high-level briefings geared to fostering ongoing professional ties between the two countries. During his visit, Maestro Britos met with a broad range of Israeli musicians, conductors, orchestras and academics at the Jerusalem Music Center, Jerusalem Conservatory, Buchmann-Mehta School of Music at the Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University Academy of Music, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion, Tel Aviv Youth Orchestra, at KeyNote Music Education and Community Outreach. He also visited two youth orchestras run by “Sulamot – music for social change” – a project similar to the one he directs in Uruguay – and also toured the country extensively including the Old City of Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, Masada, Dead Sea, the Baha’i Gardens, Galilee and Tel-Aviv-Jaffa.



B’nai B’rith Delegation Participates in Zionist Congress
A senior B’nai B’rith International delegation participated on October 20-22 in the 37th Zionist Congress that convened in Jerusalem. This Zionist Congress session was held under the title “Non-Stop Zionism”. The delegation of 20 delegates attended three days of intensive policy sessions and actively participated in debates that will determine the future course of the Zionist movement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened the Congress with a broad ranging speech about the current wave of Palestinian terrorism, arguing that as in the past, the physical assault was preceded by an assault on the truth. He outlined ten lies hurled at Israel that form the fertile ground for murderous terrorist attacks. Head of the opposition Isaac Herzog and Minister of Immigrant Absorption Ze’ev Elkin, in addition to other leading Israeli political and intellectual figures, also addressed the gathering.

B’nai B’rith International delegates to the Congress were: Ben Mirman (USA) Chairman B’nai B’rith International WZO-JAFI Committee; Ira Bartfield (USA), Senior B’nai B’rith International Vice President, Dr. Eduardo Kohn (Uruguay), Director, B’nai B’rith Latin America;  Michael Nathan (Israel), President, B’nai B’rith Israel; Abraham Goldstein (Brazil), President, B’nai B’rith Brazil; Ed Redensky (USA), National Vice Chair B’nai B’rith International YLN; Valerie Achache (France), Vice President, B’nai B’rith Europe; Lional Sebban (France), Treasurer, B’nai B’rith Europe; Katarina Lesna (Slovakia), Vice President, B’nai B’rith Tolerancia Lodge, Bratislava; Tali Schwartz (USA), NYC YLN Chair; Dr. Baruch Levy (Israel), B’nai B’rith World Center Executive Committee; Nachliel Dison (Israel), B’nai B’rith World Center Executive Committee; Elana Heideman (Israel), former B’nai B’rith International YLAN Chair; Felicia Waldman (Romania), Member of B’nai B’rith Romania; Ruth Bessekri (France), Member of Theodore Herzl Lodge, Nice; Tsila Shalom (Israel), President, Meytar Lodge; Israeli AEPi alumni Amos Meron, Yoni Mann and Yoseff Shachor and World Center director Alan Schneider. Bartfield and Mirman served in vice-chair capacities in the course of the Congress.

​Deputy members included B’nai B’rith Israel vice presidents Avraham Huli and Zvi Rotenberg. In elections, Avraham Duvdevani was elected WZO Chairman for a second term. The B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem coordinated B’nai B’rith International‘s delegation as part of its ongoing engagement on behalf of B’nai B’rith with the WZO and National Institutions.


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B’nai B’rith World Center Director Pens Piece on Jewish Rescue in Mizkar​

B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider wrote a piece on Jewish rescue for the September issue of Mizkar, a quarterly on the Holocaust, revival, memory and memorialization, published by the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, which represents 50 organizations assisting Holocaust survivors. The article (written in Hebrew) is about the fantastic and largely unknown story of Jewish self-rescue during the Holocaust. 



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Foundational Holocaust text republished by B’nai B’rith Bulgaria
 B’nai B’rith Bulgaria launched a republication of “Documents” – one of the first-ever books written about the Holocaust. Originally published in January 1945 while the death camps were still operating at full capacity elsewhere in Nazi-occupied Europe, the 200-page book contains the dry bureaucratic orders issued by the pro-German Bulgarian government’s “Commissariat for Jewish Questions” (KEV) for the deportation of 12,000 Jews from Bulgarian-occupied areas of Greece – nearly all of whom were murdered in Treblinka and other Nazi death camps.  

The book was compiled by Nathan Greenberg – an employee of KEV following the regime change of September 1944 who had access to the documents. The orders also set in motion preparations for the deportation of all of Bulgaria’s wartime Jewish population of 48,000, who survived through the intervention of Dimitar Peshev, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Bulgaria who rebelled against the pro-Nazi cabinet, leaders of the Bulgarian Church led by Metropolitan Stefan of Sofia and Metropolitan Kyril of Plovdiv, and many ordinary citizens. The book was to prepare the Bulgarian population for the trials of those complicit in the deportation plans. Out of print and unavailable for decades, “Documents” is now available with a new introduction by B’nai B’rith Sofia, Bulgaria “Carmel” Lodge President Solomon Bali. In the preface, Bali notes that “Documents” had not been republished for 70 years because, after the conviction of some of the perpetrators, “the regime decided to use the survival of the Jewish community as a means to favorably affect the conditions for a peace treaty with the Allies, even as the Bulgarian regime continued to exhibit anti-Semitic strains. The story is unpleasant and affects the personal stories of many Bulgarians, whether directly or indirectly. [A]lthough not written to motivate emigration to Israel, the book did play a role in the mass immigration of Bulgarian Jewry to Israel…Today, the security situation of the Jewish communities is similar to that of 80 years ago. To examine primary sources from that period is very important for our ability to make the right decisions today – whether to remain in countries whose culture and civilization we helped to create over the last millennium or to seize the opportunity presented by the State of Israel to every Jew in the world to return to our homeland.  The republication was initiated by B’nai B’rith Bulgaria and made possible in cooperation with the B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem.

The book launch – held at the newly-renovated National Palace of Culture bookshop in Sofia – was covered extensively on Bulgarian national television, on National Radio and in the print media and has generated wide public discussion and debate on Bulgaria’s war-time record. The print run of 1,000 books will be distributed free of charge to researchers, schools, journalists and other interested parties.

In 2005, B’nai B’rith, in cooperation with the Sofia University Center for Jewish Studies and the Sofia University Press, published “The Power of Civil Society in a Time of Genocide: Proceedings of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Rescue of the Jews in Bulgaria 1940-41,” which outlined efforts of church leaders, in their own words (particularly Metropolitans Stefan and Kyril) – to foil the deportation plans.


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Out of print and unavailable for decades, “Documents” is now available with a new introduction by B’nai B’rith Sofia, Bulgaria “Carmel” Lodge President Solomon Bali. The republication was initiated by B’nai B’rith Bulgaria and made possible in cooperation with the B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem. The book launch – held at the newly-renovated National Palace of Culture bookshop in Sofia – was covered extensively on Bulgarian national television, on National Radio and in the print media and has generated wide public discussion and debate on Bulgaria’s war-time record. The print run of 1,000 books will be distributed free of charge to researchers, schools, journalists and other interested parties.

​In 2005, B’nai B’rith, in cooperation with the Sofia University Center for Jewish Studies and the Sofia University Press, published “The Power of Civil Society in a Time of Genocide: Proceedings of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Rescue of the Jews in Bulgaria 1940-41,” which outlined efforts of church leaders, in their own words (particularly Metropolitans Stefan and Kyril) – to foil the deportation plans.



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Schneider Addresses Lithuanian Business Forum and Knesset Caucus
 
B’nai B’rith World Center director Alan Schneider addressed on October 11 a 40-member delegation from “Vadovu Klubas” – a Lithuanian executive business network of 24 local groups with over 400 member, established in 1998. The group approached Schneider to present a historical perspective of B’nai B’rith and its activities today followed by a Q and A session.

​The following day, Schneider addressed the founding session of the Knesset Caucus for Reconnection with Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Communities, chaired by MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beitenu) and the “Reconectar” project . Schneider conveyed B’nai B’rith’s support for the initiatives and cautioned that Christians continue to target Jews in the Diaspora – including “Anusim” (descendants pf Spanish and Portuguese Jewish communities forcibly converted in the Inquisition) – and in Israel where messianic communities have been growing exponentially with the active support of Zionist Evangelical and missionary organizations.



Upcoming events:

  • January 10-13 Second Greek-American/Jewish-American Leadership Mission to Israel
  • February 1-5 B’nai B’rith UN Mission to Israel
  • February 7-9 B’nai B’rith MEP Mission to Israel
  • February 17-18 Joint BESA-B’nai B’rith Conference: “Strategic Challenges in the Eastern Mediterranean Area”