A periodic e-newsletter from the B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem, Pesach 2018/5778
Strategic Challenges in Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Gulf
BBI President Gary Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin addressed alongside leading experts from Israel and abroad. The lectures can be viewed here:
Jewish Rescuers’ Citation to Enzo Cavaglion
Enzo Cavaglion was one of the 14 founding members of the partisan group “Italia Libera” (Free Italy), established on Sept. 12, 1943 (the same day that Cuneo was occupied by the German First SS Panzer Division — by Duccio Galimberti, an outspoken anti-Fascist lawyer from the city. They ensconced themselves in the sanctuary of the Madonna del Colletto, 18 kilometers to the west of Cuneo. Enzo and his younger brother, Riccardo, stayed with the group until October 1943, when they had to leave to help their own families escape arrest in Cuneo. In addition to the combat they waged against the Germans and Italian Fascists, Enzo and Riccardo endangered themselves to help Jews who sought refuge in villages around Cuneo. More than 1,000 Jews living in the remote Italian-occupied French Alpine village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie had fled in the face of the German army that invaded the area following the announcement on Sept. 8 of the armistice signed between Italy and the Allies. Men, women, children, the elderly and disabled scaled the Maritime Alps over the international border into Italy in a harrowing ordeal, only to find the Germans already roaming the area. About 300 of these Jews were captured and dispatched to Auschwitz. The remaining 700 found refuge among the welcoming local peasant population. Enzo and Riccardo found hiding places for them, furnished them with the necessary documents and hid them in the mountains in order to evade the Nazis.
Following the presentation at Enzo Cavaglion’s home, a tribute symposium took place at Cuneo’s historic synagogue. In addition to Schneider speakers included Enzo’s son, noted history professor Alberto Cavaglion, Mr. Federico Borgna, Cuneo mayor and city council member Manuele Isoardi, B’nai B’rith Milan President Paolo Eliezer Foà.
Survivor Harry Burger credited Enzo and Riccardo with saving his life and his mother’s life by warning them that the Nazis were hunting for them. Another survivor, Alfred Feldman, wrote in his memoir, “One Step Ahead: A Jewish Fugitive in Hitler’s Europe,” that he witnessed a daring theft of identity cards by Enzo and Riccardo from the mayor’s office in Vignolo, Italy, that were then falsified and distributed to some of the refugees. Enzo performed all of these activities despite the additional danger he faced as a result.
Since its establishment in 2011, the Jewish Rescuers’ Citation has been presented jointly by the World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews during the Holocaust, in an effort to correct the public misconception that Jews did not rescue fellow Jews during the Holocaust. To date, nearly 200 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Holland and now Italy. While in Italy, Schneider also addressed a meeting of the B’nai B’rith Cassuto Lodge in Milano.
Joint Three-Country Leadership Mission
The delegation of American Hellenic and American Jewish community leaders explored the major economic (business and tourism), energy sector and security developments underway with high-ranking government officials and visits to military installations.
This Third International Leadership Mission — a joint 18-member delegation — represents the ongoing organizational cooperation between the American Hellenic and American Jewish communities and broad diaspora support for the trilateral relationship. The four organizations built upon two previous, groundbreaking three-country leadership missions in January 2014 and January 2016, which were widely recognized and praised as contributing to intergroup and international cooperation and friendship.
World Center Convenes Principal Event Marking 100th Anniversary of Balfour Declaration
B’nai B’rith International CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin addressed both the conference – titled “100 Years since the Balfour Declaration—From Declaration to Independence to Regional Power” – and the committee session.
B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem Chairman Haim Katz provided an introduction for the conference keynote speaker, Lord Rothschild OM GBE. Additional foreign speakers included renowned historian professor Simon Schama and visiting British parliamentarians: Lord Polak CBE, Honorary President of Conservative Friends of Israel; and Rt Hon Joan Ryan MP, Parliamentary Chair of Labour Friends of Israel (recording of the event can be viewed here). Other speakers included: Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Israel David Quarrey; Dr. Martin Kramer (Shalem College), Prof. Efraim Karsh (Bar-Ilan University) and Members of Knesset: Yehiel Hilik Bar and Yoav Kisch — Co-Chairs of the Israel–Great Britain Parliamentary Friendship Group. In addition to Edelstein, opening remarks were also presented by Zionist Executive Chairman Avraham Duvdevani and Balfour Centenary Committee Chairman Dr. Alan Webber. Special guests included Philip Weyers, great-grandson of Jan Smuts a Zionist supporter and member of the Imperial War Cabinet in 1917.
World Center Featured at Award Ceremony for Chairman of the Board of Federmann Enterprises
Since 1969 Michael Federmann has held different managerial positions in the Federmann Group. He serves as Chairman & CEO of Federmann Enterprises, as Chairman of the Board of Elbit Systems and as Chairman of the Board of the Dan Hotels. Dan Hotels was founded in 1947, when two brothers, Yekutiel (Michael Federmann’s father) and Shmuel Federmann bought the Kaete Dan, a guest house located on the Tel-Aviv shoreline. Now in its 70th anniversary, Dan Hotels encompasses 14 hotels and as Chairman of the Board, Michael Federmann oversees more than 3,600 employees. The King David Jerusalem is the Chain’s most prestigious hotel, accommodating world leaders and recently hosted U.S. President Donald J. Trump during his visit to Israel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. The Dan Hotels have just opened their first 230 room hotel in Bangalore, India. Since 2000 Michael Federmann has served as Chairman of Elbit Systems Ltd. Elbit Systems is a leading international defense electronics company engaged in a wide range of programs throughout the world. The Company operates in the areas of aerospace, commercial aviation solutions, land and naval systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), homeland security applications, unmanned aircraft and naval systems, advanced electro-optics, electro-optic space systems, electronic warfare (EW) suites, airborne warning systems, electronic intelligence systems, data links, artillery systems, cyber security solutions, military communications systems and radios. The Company employs more than 12,500 people worldwide, with 16 sites in Israel as well as a variety of local entities to support and engage with clients both home and abroad. The Company’s annual revenue in 2016 was U.S. $3.26 billion and the Federmann Group is the major shareholder. Michael Federmann serves as Chairman of the Board of Governors of The Hebrew University, since 2009. In 1996 he was awarded the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa by the Hebrew University.
B’nai B’rith Latin America Mission Visits Israel
Jaime Fuchs, President District 27, Chile, Bolivia, Peru; Ursula Kychental, former President District 27; former BBI IVP
Rolf Kemper, former BB Paraguay President and Eduardo Kohn, Director, B’nai B’rith Latin America. Elements of the intensive program composed by the World Center included tours of the City of David, Western Wall tunnels, Ammunition Hill, Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, National Hall of Remembrance, the ancient synagogue at Natur in the Golan Heights; meetings with MK Haim Jelin and mayor of Efrat Oded Ravivi; briefings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and visits to leading Israel hi-tech companies. Evaluation of the mission was enthusiastic. Participants wrote that “it was the most extraordinary experience I have had to learn about Israel on-site”; “The quality of the agenda was extraordinary and a unique opportunity to know people and places”; “the quality of the agenda and the opportunity to learn in every meeting and visit was beyond expectations.”
In a report about the mission, B’nai B’rith Chile President Jaime Fuchs wrote (Spanish/English Google translation).
B’nai B’rith Presents Aid to Israeli Orphans
World Center Represented at Anti-BDS Conferences
South African attorney Luba Mayekiso, Founding Director of Africa for Israel Christian Coalition, rejected the false branding of Israel as an Apartheid state by presenting the true face of South African segregation as he experienced it. David Elhayani, Head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, presented the real economic damage caused by the BDS movement to farmers in his municipality. A week earlier, Schneider attended the first International Lawyers Conference on the legal aspects of the global fight against the delegitimization campaign organized jointly by The International Legal Forum, the Israel Bar Association and the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Sessions included “Legal Trends in the Campaign against the Delegitimization of Israel”, “Delegitimization as Contemporary Antisemitism”, “BDS at the Municipal Level”, “Economic Lawfare and the UN Human Rights Council’s Database” among others. Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog opened the conference with speeches rejecting the campaign to single out Israel in legal and international fora. Speakers at the conference included top local and international counter-BDS activists and legal practitioners including BBI Honorary President Richard Heideman who presented his experience representing American victims of terrorism against accessories to terrorism in US courts.
Schneider Addresses B’nai B’rith international Holocaust Remembrance Day Event
Ceremony Dedicated To Commemorating the Rescue Efforts of Walter Suskind and the Jewish caregivers in the Crèche in Amsterdam
B’nai B’rith World Center and Keren Kayemeth Leisrael holdunique Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony marking the heroism of Jewish rescuersCeremony Dedicated To Commemorating the Rescue Efforts of Walter Suskind and the Jewish caregivers in the Crèche in AmsterdamThe B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) held for the 15th consecutive year, a unique joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah, April 24). This is the only event dedicated annually to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust and was covered widely in the Israel print and broadcast media. A total of 1,200 people attended the event including 300 border patrol cadets—who provided an honor guard—and 500 students together with Jewish rescuers and survivors. The ceremony took place at the B’nai B’rith Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza. This year, the ceremony was dedicated to the rescue efforts of Walter Suskind and the Jewish caregivers at the crèche (day care center) in Amsterdam. Suskind was one of the many Jews who escaped to Holland after the Nazis rose to power. He was hired as a manager at Unilever in Amsterdam, but lost his job because of the anti-Jewish laws the Nazis imposed after they occupied Holland in May 1940. He was appointed by the Jewish Council (established in 1941 by German orders), as director of the detention camp established in the former Hollandsche Schouwburg theater for Jews before deportation via the Westerbork transit camp to extermination in Sobibor and Auschwitz.
Conditions at the theater were inhumane and, in order to limit the commotion, the Nazis agreed to Suskind’s proposal that children under 13 be separated from their parents and placed in the children’s care center opposite the theater, which was operated by a team of Jewish caregivers. Taking great personal risks and exploiting his unique personality, talents and profound knowledge of German culture and mores, Suskind orchestrated a rescue effort of 600-1,000 children out of the crèche into the hands of four Dutch underground organizations. The care center administrator Henriette Henriques Pimentel, and a number of caregivers, Betty Oudkerk (18); Siney Kattenburg (19); Ines Cohn (18); and nurse Virgenia “Virri” Cohen (daughter of the Jewish council chairman) and Harry Cohen, utilized daring subterfuge to smuggle the children to members of the underground. Most of the children were spirited out of Amsterdam and placed with Christian families in the north and south of Holland where they were kept safe until the war’s end. The children smuggled out of the crèche represent one quarter of the Jewish children who survived the Holocaust, but only about 10 percent of the 5,000-6,000 children who were confined at the care center over the course of its operation. The dangerous rescue operation was carried out in various ways, under the noses of the German guards. Children were hidden in backpacks and milk cans, and were taken from the center into the tram that passed between the center and the theater. The escape was timed so that the exit from the care center was hidden by the tram and the smuggler boarded the tram to the central train station. Another successful method was to convince the Germans that the children needed some fresh air. Once they were outside, some children were removed in clever ways during the stroll. In all these cases, the meticulous records that were kept by the Germans had to be modified before the child was to be reunited with his parents at the theater prior to their deportation. Suskind ran the rescue operations during the two and a half years he was the manager of the theater. He, with four underground groups, and many of their operatives, received the title “Righteous Among the Nations” from Yad Vashem after the war. In addition to rescuing the children, Suskind facilitated the escape of adults from the theater itself, even though the place was more strictly guarded than the care center.
At the beginning of 1943, the care center was extended to an adjoining house after the Jewish owners were deported to the camps. The expansion led to the fact that the care center was now adjacent to a Protestant seminar for teachers. Pimentel recruited the headmaster of the seminar, Johan van Hulst (later recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations,”) to assist in the rescue operations. The first transport left Amsterdam on July 15, 1942 to Westerbork from where 1,000 Jews were deported weekly to Sobibor and Auschwitz; 102,992 Jews were deported and only 5,200 survived. On July 26, 1943, Pimentel was deported along with 36 members of the staff to Westerbork. She was murdered in the gas chambers in Auschwitz. On Sept. 29, 1943, the Germans emptied the care center and on the following day—which happened to be Rosh Hashanah—the remainder of Dutch Jewry were deported to Westerbork including the members of the Jewish Council. Thanks to an early warning received from Suskind and the leader of the NV (Naamloze Vennootschap) underground organization, Joe Wartman, two of the largest smuggling attempts were undertaken. Although Suskind had the opportunity to go into hiding, he decided to join his wife and young daughter in Westerbork. They were transferred to Theresienstadt and then to Auschwitz, where they were all murdered.
Amsterdam was declared Judenrein (free of Jews) on Oct. 8, 1943. About 80 percent of Holland’s Jewry was murdered in the Holocaust; among them were Suskind and his family.
“The purpose of today’s ceremony is to stop, if only for a moment, our daily lives order to memorialize what these heroes did in the Second World War. We did not forget them. Their legacy must be kept in our hearts. This is a day of hope that there will always be people who will not be ready to watch from the sidelines as evil unfolds,” Dr. Racheli Kreisberg, innovation attaché at the Dutch Embassy in Israel and granddaughter of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal said at the event.
Bert Jan Flim, grandson of Berend Jan and Gerarda Flim, son of Herman Flim (all “Righteous Among the Nations” recipients) and a Dutch historian focusing on the rescue of Jewish children in the Netherlands during the Holocaust also addresed the event:
“At the end of 1942, a chance meeting took place in Amsterdam. A 17-year old German boy by the name of Hans Kinsbergen ran into an old acquaintance, 36-year old Walter Süskind. They knew each other from the German town of Giessen, where they both had lived during the 1930s. Kinsbergen now lived with his mother and stepfather in Amsterdam. Their house had become a center of the NV. Süskind was desperately looking for ways to let at least some of these children escape and hide them with foster families. Kinsbergen could provide just that, and other resistance groups joined in. The Amsterdam students regularly collected children from the nursery and brought them to hiding places in the north and south of the Netherlands. The Trouw-group took children from the nursery and hid them anywhere they could. In the end, about 600 Jewish children were smuggled out. The Jewish personnel in the nursery and the Hollandsche Schouwburg theater had to work under incredible strain. Very young nurses, like Sieny Kattenburg and Betty Oudkerk, hid babies under their skirts or in backpacks. Both are now in their nineties and are always ready to tell the tale. Süskind’s right hand man, Felix Halverstad, doctored the German administration while Süskind himself fed alcoholic drinks to the German command”.
Benjamin Peleg (Flesschedrager), survivor of the crèche said: “I was born over 70 years ago, during the war, while Jews were being deported every day to Westerbork on their way to extermination in Nazi death camps. Only a relatively small number of Dutch non-Jews and Jews acutely resisted the extermination of the Jews was one of those children who was saved; when I was ten days old I was spirited out of the crèche into the hands of the Dutch underground. I was raised in the shadow of the Holocaust without knowing my parents where were murdered in the death camps. My memory begins when I was told on my 10th birthday that my biological parents had died.”
“In addition to honoring those who were murdered, Holocaust Remembrance Day provides an opportunity to memorialize the actions of thousands of Jews who, under impossible conditions, endangered themselves to rescue other Jews during the Holocaust, in various unimaginably sophisticated and courageous ways. They took the chance—and in many cases succeeded—in upsetting the Nazi plan to exterminate all Jews on the European continent and ensured their survival. These activities serve as source of inspiration and price for all the Jewish people and a shining example of Jewish and human solidarity,” said Danny Atar, KKL/JNF World chairman.
“The difficulty of understanding the essence of the Holocaust for those who were not present, led to the stories of Jewish rescue and their bearing on the Jewish future being ignored. The public learned to develop adoration for the Partisans and Ghetto Fighters and none considered that Jewish rescuers ensured the survival of many more Jews than those saved through armed struggle,” said Daniel Brand.
The Martyr’s Forest is the largest joint B’nai B’rith and KKL-JNF project, which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust with 6 million trees planted in the picturesque Jerusalem mountains near Moshav Kesalon. At the pinnacle of the forest stands the “Scroll of Fire,” created by renowned sculptor Nathan Rapoport, which invokes the destruction of the Jewish people in the Holocaust and their redemption in the State of Israel. The event will commence with personal testimonies by Holocaust survivors to classes of soldiers.
The phenomena of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of thousands of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe have yet to receive appropriate public recognition and resonance. Many who could have tried to flee preferred to stay and rescue others; some paid for it with their lives. With great heroism, Jews in every country in occupied Europe employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods to ensure that Jews survived the Holocaust, or assisted them in escaping to a safe place, and in doing so foiled the Nazi goal of total genocide against the Jews. The organizers of the ceremony view it as especially important to expose Jewish youth to Jewish rescue during the Holocaust as a model for Jewish solidarity and courage.
The B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) announced the latest conferees of their joint “Jewish Rescuer’s Citation”—13 rescuers who risked their lives to save fellow Jews from deportation and extermination during the Holocaust. Eight citations were conferred posthumously at a B’nai B’rith World Center/Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) ceremony recognizing the heroism of Jewish rescuers that took place on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah), April 24 at the B’nai B’rith Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza (see above). Since its establishment in 2011, the Jewish Rescuers Citation has been presented in order to correct the public misconception that Jews did not rescue other Jews during the Holocaust. To date, 169 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland and Holland.
The conferees were Walter Suskind, Joel and Hansi Brand, Ines Cohn, Dr. Leon Cuenca, Dr. Gisella Perl, Shlomo Cohen, Yeshayahu Gottlieb, Moshe Simon, Aron Grunhut, Adolf Burger, Dr. Hadassah Bimko-Rosensaft and David Lavi.
At the beginning of 1941, Joel and Hansi Brand assisted refugees escaping to Hungary from Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia, opening their home to the refugees. Joel became a central figure in the rescue of Hungarian Jews. He was a member of the Relief and Rescue Committee and as such made contact with the representatives of the Jewish Agency in Istanbul. After the German invasion of Hungary on March 19, 1944, in an effort to save Jewish lives, Brand made contact with implementer of the “Final Solution,” S.S officer Adolf Eichmann, the main Nazi official in charge of the deportations of Jews. As German defeat in the war loomed, Eichmann proposed a “Goods for Blood” deal (which was offered to the Jewish Agency), and allowed Brand to leave for Istanbul in May 1944 to broker the deal while his wife and two sons were held hostage in case he would not return to Hungary. He was not allowed to enter Turkey and was arrested by the British and held prisoner in Cairo. From there he reached Mandatory Palestine to engage the Jewish Agency to assist Hungarian Jewry. Before leaving for Istanbul, Brand and Hansi met with Eichmann, and Hansi became Eichmann’s contact person with the Jews. In addition to her role as liaison, Hansi obtained and distributed forged identity cards and helped hide the counterfeit lab. She was arrested by Hungarian secret police on May 27, 1944 and was interrogated under torture for information about the lab and her husband’s mission, but did not reveal any secrets.
During her work at the crèche in Amsterdam up until its last day of operation, Cohn risked her life handing over children to the Dutch underground. When the care center was closed down by the Nazis, she was transferred to the transit camp in the theater, but with the assistance of the Jewish Council and the Dutch Underground, she managed to escape, receiving false papers that allowed her to survive the war. She married a soldier in the Jewish Brigade and the couple made aliyah immediately after the war. She lived in Kibbutz Ma’abarot and after that in Moshav Hadar Am. Today she lives in Netanya and has two children.
Cuenca was a Greek-Jewish ENT specialist who was interned at the Buna concentration camp where he served as a doctor. Endangering his own life, he surreptitiously assisted prisoners to escape the selections, and gave them medical treatment in spite of the shortage in medicines and medical supplies. He was decorated after the war by the French government for his assistance to French citizens in the camp.
Perl studied medicine in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Upon her arrival in Auschwitz in May 1944, she was appointed director of the infirmary and gynecologist at Birkenau. The infirmary team, led by Perl, concealed contagious diseases contracted by prisoners that, if revealed, would have meant death. Endangering her own life, she gave Dr. Josef Mengele blood samples she took from herself and healthy women instead of blood samples of sick patients in order to save them. Perl tried not to commit the prisoners to the infirmary because they were usually sent from there to extermination, hiding them instead in the barracks. After considering the Halachic permit to curtail the life of a fetus in order to save the mother, she started to conduct abortions on prisoners so that they would not be sent to extermination due to the pregnancy or delivery. It is estimated that Perl saved the lives of 3,000 women.
Cohen assisted in obtaining documents, food and money for refugees who arrived to Hungary from Slovakia. In 1943, he was drafted into a forced labor camp from which he escaped in July 1944. He joined the underground operating out of the Glass House and helped dig a bunker. Endangering himself, he smuggled escapees from labor units, and children from the ghetto to the safe houses under the auspices of the International Red Cross. From November 1944, he transported food from the warehouses to Jews hiding in various places and to children’s houses.
Gottlieb was a forced laborer at the Korolowka camp near Zamosc, Poland when he responded to the plea of a group of famished children to provide them with food. Gottlieb convinced the adults in the barracks—who were starved themselves—to set aside some of their meager portions for the children every night for two weeks. Five of the children survived because of his efforts.
Simon was drafted into a forced labor unit in Hungary in September 1943. In the fall of 1944, he was extracted to Budapest through the intervention of Bnei Akiva, with which he was affiliated. During November and December 1944, Simon participated in the distribution of forged Swiss safe passes (Schutzpass) produced in the tens of thousands by the Underground Zionist Youth Movements in Hungary at the Glass House and distributed en masse to Jews. Simon was one of the bravest messengers of the underground, risking his life to provide these documents that allowed Jews to survive. After the war, he participated in the illegal immigration to Israel and he made aliyah in 1948.
Grunhut was an Orthodox businessman and a leader in several Jewish organizations in what is now Bratislava, Slovakia. He began his rescue activities in 1938, shortly after the Anschluss, when he participated in saving Jewish refugees from the area of Kittsee, a municipality in Austria, who were expelled to Hungary, and ensured their return to Slovakia. At the same time, he had a tent camp built for stateless Jews near Dunajská Streda and organized their journey to Mandatory Palestine. In 1939, he chartered two steam boats to smuggle 1,365 Jews from Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Austria from Bratislava via the Danube to the Bulgarian port of Ruse, then overland to Varna, Bulgaria and on to Mandatory Palestine. However, Bulgarian frontier guards stopped the steamboats and intended to send them back. They spent more than four weeks aboard in international waters. Finally, Grunhut persuaded Bulgarian offices to allow the ships to continue the voyage. Then, in the Romanian port Sulina, the refugees changed to the cargo ship Noemi Julia. After 83 distressful days filled with worries, the Jewish refugees arrived in Haifa—not before Grunhut arranged their legal entry into Mandatory Palestine. He returned to Slovakia and was arrested in 1943 by the Slovakian government due to his activity in the resistance. After his release, he joined his wife and young son who were hidden under a false identity in Hungary. From his hiding place, Grunhut made contact with the Hungarian underground and financed the smuggling of Jewish refugees by train from Budapest to Damascus, saving another 300 children. The Hungarian secret police was after him and, with the assistance of a fireman (who was posthumously recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations”), he found refuge in the basement of the former Czechoslovakian embassy in Budapest, living in the premises with his wife and son until the end of the war. The family returned to Bratislava after the war, but with the rise of communism, the family left for Israel in 1948.
As a professional typographer, Burger forged documents for Jews destined for deportation from Slovakia, helping them to avoid the concentration camps by stating they were Christian. He was exposed, arrested and deported to Auschwitz. After 18 months there, the Germans decided to utilize his talents, having him forge British currency to undermine the British economy. “Operation Bernhard” was never executed.
A dentist by training, Bimko-Rosensaft served as a physician at the Auschwitz-Birkenau infirmary. Upon her arrival in August 1943, her parents, first husband and five year-old son were immediately murdered in the gas chambers. At the infirmary, she performed rudimentary surgeries of inmates, camouflaging their wounds and sending them out of the barracks on work detail in advance of selections. In November 1944, she was assigned by Mengele, together with eight other prisoners, as a medical team to Bergen-Belsen. Beginning with 49 Dutch children in December 1944, she organized what became known as a Kinderheim (a children’s home), within the concentration camp. Bimko-Rosensaft would gather abandoned children arriving at the camp from all over Europe. Together with other women and with assistance from other inmates, she risked her life to ensure the survival of 149 children through the bitter winter and early spring of 1945.
After graduating from a Jewish high school, Lavi studied engraving. In 1941, he moved to Budapest and integrated into the Zionist youth underground activities, helping refugees from Slovakia. He was arrested with other members of the underground and sent to Garany detention camp. Being a craftsman, he was enlisted in the Hungarian army. With the retreat of the Germans, he was taken on a death march to Austria. After the war, he returned to Hungary and joined the “Ehad BeMay” settlement in-training (Hachshara) group. He made aliyah in 1948 and was one of the founders of Kibbutz Ga’aton. Please see link to an article in Israel Hayom on Ines Cohen here.
Flim Is Also the Son and Grandson of Righteous Among the Nations Recipients
From April 23-27, the B’nai B’rith World Center hosted Bert Jan Flim, a noted Dutch historian who has researched the rescue of Jewish children during the Holocaust in Holland. His father and paternal grandparents were recipients of the Righteous Among the Nations award for their part in rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. Flim took part in the B’nai B’rith World Center/JNF-KKL joint annual ceremony dedicated to recognizing the heroism of Jewish rescuers during the Holocaust (see above). Flim also presented his research at a lecture entitled “Child’s Play: The Rescue of 800 Jewish Children in the Netherlands, 1942–1945,” at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem and at Haifa University. Born in 1957 in Holland, Flim majored in history at Groningen University, and studied the NV (Naamloze Vennootschap), a resistance group that saved about 230 Jewish children during World War II. Following extensive research, he received a Ph.D. in 1995 for his thesis: “Because their hearts spoke: history of the organized help to Jewish children in the Netherlands, 1942-1945,” which was published as a book in 1996. He co-edited The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations: The Netherlands (1997–2000) and was a member of the Foundation Maror-gelden Nederland (The Dutch Claims Conference) from 2000 to 2001. He is currently a lecturer in history at Friesland College in Holland.
B’nai Brith World Center – Jerusalem and B’nai B’rith Canada bestowed on April 16 the Jewish Rescuers Citation to Dora Aftergood, 94, in honour of her father Dr. Assaf Atchildi, who put his own life at risk to ensure the survival of over 300 Jews in Nazi-occupied France. The Citation is a project initiated in 2011 by the B’nai B’rith World Centre – Jerusalem and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust to recognize those Jews who endangered themselves to rescue and protect others in Nazi Germany. Aftergood accepted the award on behalf of Dr. Atchildi in a small private ceremony in Vancouver. B’nai Brith will hold a larger public event commemorating her father’s selfless actions in Calgary later this year. Born into an educated, affluent Bukharan (Central Asian) Zionist family, Dr. Atchildi and his family resided in Paris during World War II, where he was able to successfully argue that they be exempt from the Nazis’ anti-Jewish decrees because, while they were Jewish by belief, they were not Jews ethnically as determined by the Nazis. The incident galvanized Dr. Atchildi to lead the effort in saving other Jewish families by using the same tactic. By the end of World War II, after building a web of contacts and relationships among the German and French bureaucracy, Dr. Atchildi had managed to save hundreds of Jews from Nazi persecution, repeatedly putting his own life at risk. On one occasion, he was threatened at gunpoint.
“The date of November 9, 1941 remains in my memory as a very happy day in my life, a day on which I learned that my existence in the world was meaningful inasmuch as I had successfully protected the members of my community in the darkest days of their lives,” Dr. Atchildi said in a testimony to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in 1967. B’nai Brith Canada said in a statement that it was proud to posthumously honour Dr. Atchildi for his exemplary risking his life to save others. Through the Jewish Rescuers Citation, B’nai Brith will continue to discredit the mistaken notions that Jews did nothing to rescue fellow Jews during the Holocaust and that Jewish solidarity was nowhere to be found during the Holocaust.
B’nai B’rith World Center announced winner of 2017 Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage
The winner of the 2017 “B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage” is Yaniv Pohoryles, home page editor and writer for the Jewish World section of Ynet, one of Israel’s most popular online news sites. Pohoryles was chosen for a series of nine articles published over the course of 2016 that covered Jewish communities in the U.S. and France, Jewish demography, Israel-Diaspora relations, Jewish sportsmen, fundraising, aliyah and Kosher food, among other topics.
Nine Jewish rescuers honored by B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) in Paris
The B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) conferred their joint “Jewish Rescuer’s Citation” upon nine rescuers who risked their lives saving Jews from extermination and deportation during the Holocaust. Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris on February 13. The event took place under the auspices of B’nai B’rith France and with the participation of Serge Dahan, President, B’nai B’rith France, Haïm Korsia, Chief Rabbi of France and Dr. Tsilla Hershco, representative of the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jews who Rescued Fellow Jews During the Holocaust (JRJ) and a researcher of the Jewish French resistance movement.
Marcel (Mangel) Marceau – In 1944, Marcel father’s Charles Mangel was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where he died. Marcel and his older brother, Alain joined the French Resistance, and assumed false identities, taking on the surname “Marceau”. He is credited with saving the lives of Jewish orphans by leading them across the Alps into Switzerland, or south, into Spain, to avoid arrest by the Germans. He also forged identity cards with his brother, allowing Jews and non-Jews alike to avoid deportation to Germany as slave labor.
Leon Eligoulachvili (105) and Joseph Eligoulachvili – Leon and his uncle Joseph (who was a member of the independent Georgian government until he escaped to France with the Soviet occupation in 1921) saved Georgian Jews who lived in France and others during WWII with the help of the Georgian Government in Exile. At Eligoulachvili’s suggestion, the Georgian leaders approached the Germans to exclude Georgian Jews from the anti-Jewish bans. The Georgians received permission to open an office and to issue identity cards that were distributed to many Jews. By changing family names and forging birth certificates and other documents, many Jews “became Georgians,” and thus their lives were saved.
Georges Loinger (106) and Fanny Loinger – joined his wife, Flora, after his escape from a camp in Germany in 1940. Flora was in charge of a Jewish refugee children’s home. The children were then in danger of being arrested and had to be hidden. After helping her to do this, Georges was appointed by the OSE (Children’s Aid Society) to be their traveling children’s home inspector, including the ones run by the Jewish Scouts Movement (EIF). At the end of 1942, when the heads of OSE were informed that the transports from Drancy ended up in death camps, the children’s homes were broken up and Georges was put in charge of the escape organization to Switzerland and thus helped hundreds of Jewish children escape from France to Switzerland via Annemasse. Between May 1943 and June 1944, more than 1,500 children and adolescents were smuggled by OSE into Switzerland. His sister Fanny was responsible for the social service of OSE and she had to deal with foreign Jews Refugees in Marseille waiting for visas to the United StatesIn 1943, she was appointed head of the Southeast region of the clandestine rescue, known as the Garel network, and organized the survival of some 400 children in the departments of Ardeche, Isère Drôme, Savoie, and the Upper and Lower Alps.
Nelly Willer (100) and Rachel Grunstein – Nelly joined the clandestine resistance in Nice. She helped issue false identity cards. Nelly smuggled guns who assisted the Jewish resistance in France to assassinate Russian collaborators and extradited Jews and as a result thousands of Jews were sent to extermination camps because of them. Eliminating them and their commander saved the lives of thousands of Jews in Nice. After the war she Joined the Hagana and transported Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors to French ports to make Aliyah. Was a journalist who penetrated the exiles camps in Cyprus. For many years was the president of the resistance veterans organization. Her sister Rachel also participated in eliminating Russian collaborators in Nice. After the war she too joined the Hagana
Liliane Lieber Klein (93) – participated in the creation of the EIF clandestine arm, “La Sixième” (the Sixth); the mission of “La Sixième” to hide adolescent Jews, supply them with forged ID documents and ration cards, and preserve their Jewish identity while in hiding. During the winter of 1943-1944 she ran convoys of adolescents under 16 to the Swiss border at Annemasse, France and turned them over to Georges Loinger for safe passage;
Theo Klein (97) – Lawyer, was during the 1942/1944 years, one of the leaders of the Jewish resistance in France and was involved in the rescue of hundreds of people, particularly adolescents in South zone. During the 80th he served as president of French Jewish Organization CRIF.
The B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust (JRJ) jointly honored concentration camp survivor Wolf Galperin (89), a native of Kovna, Lithuania, for his valor and sacrifice in a ceremony on January 26, eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in Sderot, Israel. The event was held in cooperation with the Sderot municipality in the presence of Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi and local youth groups at the city’s main cultural center. Although he was only 17 years old, Wolf Galperin made the decision to support and safeguard, to the best of his ability, a group of 130 Jewish children from his hometown of Kovna, Lithuania between the ages of seven and 14, including his younger brother. The children were some of the last Jews who were captured by the Nazis prior to the liquidation of the ghetto in 1944. The women, men and children were taken to and separated at Stutthof, a concentration camp in Sztutowo, Poland. The men and children continued on their journey to the Landsberg concentration camp, where 130 of the youngest children were segregated in a barbed wire holding area, presumably to await their deaths. Galperin, who was not among them, crawled under the barbed wire to be with his brother. A day later Galperin and the children were taken to Dachu, and in an effort to maintain their morale, Galperin worked to divert the children’s attention from the barbarity surrounding them. Recognizing that the Nazis valued order and obedience, he taught the children to march in formation. On July 31, 1944, the children were transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau, along with Galperin, and once again they began to march. It is generally believed by the survivors that their orderly behavior among the chaos, grief and hysteria that was the norm, was what drew the Germans to allow the group into the camp and to be assigned for work detail. The children were tattooed with sequential numbers B-2774 to B-2902. During the High Holidays in 1944, 90 members of the original group were removed from the camp and never seen again. Galperin himself was also taken away, surviving in forced labor and death marches until he was liberated on May 2, 1945. Of the 40 survivors from the initial group of children, 28, including Galperin, made their way to Israel.
Schneider meeting with outgoing Romanian ambassador and Israel’s ambassador-designate to Brazil
B’nai B’rith World Center director Alan Schneider met on February 15 with Romania’s outgoing ambassador to Israel, Andreea Pastirnac. A veteran diplomat who served an earlier tour of duty in Israel and studied at Hebrew University where she learned fluent Hebrew – Pastirnac was back in Israel for a short visit to take leave of many friends and colleagues before assuming her next position as her government’s first Minister for Romanians Abroad – a new ministry that she has just established while in Bucharest. The two discussed the responsibilities of her new office and areas for mutual cooperation with B’nai B’rith and the Jewish community at large. Schneider also conferred with Israel’s ambassador-designate to Brazil, Yossi Shelly who takes up his position in Brasilia following nearly a year-and-a-half of diplomatic tension between the countries over the failed appointment of Danny Dayan to the post. The two had an in-depth discussion about the scope of B’nai B’rith membership and activities in Brazil and the ambassador’s strategies for improving Brazil-Israel relations.
B’nai B’rith World Center director Alan Schneider met with Paraguayan ambassador to Israel Max Haber Neumann. Under President Horacio Cartes, Paraguay has become a major diplomatic ally of the State of Israel. Schneider and Neumann discussed Israel-Paraguay relations, the operation of MERCOSUR, security in the tri-border area and an array of other issues.
B’nai B’rith World Center director Alan Schneider represented B’nai B’rith at the official opening of an exhibit on Romanian “Righteous among Nations” – non-Jews who endangered themselves to rescue Jews during the Holocaust and recognized for their heroism by Yad Vashem – held on November 14 at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The exhibit was curated as part of the Romanian Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Speakers at the event included Romanian ambassador to Israel Andreea Pasternac, historians Prof. Dina Porat and Dr. Rafi Vago and Director of the MFA department for EU Affairs Ambassador Sami Ravel.
B’nai B’rith World Center Hosts Uruguayan Artists in Israel
At the offices of Habima National Theater with
Director Ruth Ton
At Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City
“Premio Fraternidad” (Fraternity Award) has been presented by B’nai B’rith Uruguay for the last 30 years to acclaimed artists at events held at the B’nai B’rith Hall in Montevideo, with government ministers, artistic luminaries, civic leaders and hundreds of members in attendance.
Federica Folco is a dancer, choreographer and dance teacher. Her work focuses on tango as a social phenomenon and on the relationship between mind, body and movement. She has been the director of the Periferico Dance Company since 2009, and has created routines by herself and in collaboration with local and international artists. Folco has participated in international festivals in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Spain and Venezuela. As a teacher, she promotes experimentation and reflection on creative energy, and has conducted workshops in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Spain.
Alicia Alfonso graduated from Mario Galup Acting School in 1993, and has 30 years of experience in dramatic arts. She is a company member of “Teatro El Galpon,” a historic theater in Montevideo, Uruguay founded in 1949. She was nominated five times for the Florencio Award—a prestigious artistic award in Uruguay—and won it twice: in 2010 for supporting actress in “Agosto,” and in 2015 for her lead role in “Horror en Coronel Suarez.” Alfonso appeared in about 40 plays for adults and children throughout Uruguay, and in international festivals in Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala and the United States.
The principal prize in the “Premio Fraternidad” is an all-expense paid trip to Israel, where the B’nai B’rith World Center is responsible for crafting and executing an intensive program of professional encounters and touring. In the course of their visit, Folco, Alfonso and Tenuta met with principals of the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre and Habima, Cameri, Gesher and Haifa theatres. They viewed performances or rehearsals by the Bat Sheva, Inbal, Nehara and SOL Dance Companies. They also visited Kelim Center and conferred with the director of the Institute of Israeli Drama. They toured Jerusalem, Masada, the Dead Sea and Galilee. At its conclusion the guests said that the visit was highly emotional experience and that they felt that they made many friends and professional contacts in the course of the visit.
B’nai B’rith Meets with Consul General of Israel to New York
B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider and U.N. and Intercommunal Affairs Director David Michaels met with Consul General of Israel in New York Dani Dayan, who has recently assumed his new post. Discussion at the meeting focused on the challenges and opportunities facing Israel in the New York region.
Dani Dayan (center), Schneider and Michaels with a flag recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center after the attacks of September 11, 2001
B’nai B’rith World Center Holds Meetings with B’nai B’rith Mexico and Guatemala Leadership
B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider met with B’nai B’rith Mexico President Dan Tartakovski and B’nai B’rith Guatemala leaders Zelik Tenenbaum and Marcel Russ during a visit to Mexico and Guatemala in July. Schneider discussed joint projects with the Latin American leaders and also addressed the congregation at Shaarey Binyamin synagogue in Guatemala City on B’nai B’rith activities in Israel and around the world. He also visited the Sephardi Center in Mexico City and met with local rabbis in both countries.
Ambassador of Israel to the United States Ron Dermer Delivers Keynote Address at B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism Ceremony
Additionally, a Lifetime Achievement Award in memory of Luis and Trudi Schydlowsky was conferred upon senior Israel Broadcasting Authority journalist Ya’akov Ahimeir, editor and presenter of the Saturday night foreign news and culture magazine show “Ro’im Olam” (Seeing the World), on Channel 1 Television. Ahimeir also appears on the Voice of Israel’s daily radio news program “HaBoker HaZeh” (This Morning). In the course of the event a special citation for fostering Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts was presented to Idan Raichel. The special citation was established by the B’nai B’rith World Center in 2014. To date, these citations have been conferred upon singer/songwriters Nurit Hirsh (2014) and David D’or (2015).
Amanda Borschel-Dan: “In her writing, as in her position as editor, Amanda Borschel-Dan strives to augment mutual understanding and the process of familiarity between Israel and Diaspora Jews. Borschel-Dan understands the singular importance of the topic she specializes in and she engages in it with intensivity and true dedication. Her writing is articulate, she delves into research and her professional scope in wide”
Allison Kaplan-Sommer: ” Allison Kaplan-Sommer has specialized in writing about Israeli and American politics with an emphasis on the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, on a wide variety of topics from an overall general perspective as well as personal stories. During the year 2015, she wrote some 34 articles for Ha’aretz on Israel and the Diaspora – in itself a most impressive body of work. Her writing is both incisive and personal, revealing a broad fund of knowledge about the Israeli and Diaspora Jewish communities – what separates them and what unites them. She sees the battleground of ideas and ideologies as important, but chooses to describe them within the context of the people and personalities involved – their stories and their lives.”
Ya’akov Ahimeir: “Ya’akov Ahimeir is one of the most senior journalists in Israel who is among those who layed the foundations of the Israel broadcast and print media. The many awards he has received are an indication of the consistent and overwhelming appreciation that exists for the outstanding brilliance of his long career. Ya’akov Ahimeir is blessed with the essential attributes for a journalist: inquisitiveness, a keen eye, the ability to recognize the essence of the story, broad education, caring, accuracy, thoroughness, fairness, courage and particularly the rare ability to be objective while not being neutral. A profound personal interest is evident in all of his reports on the Jewish world and their lives, empathy and sympathy towards his fellow Jew and real concern for Jewish communities in the Diaspora”.
Idan Raichel: “Idan Raichel is a meteor in the expanse of Israeli art. In a relatively short period of 15 years this multi-talented artist has become one of the leading musicians in Israel and one of the most successful Israeli musicians internationally. He created a unique stage presence heretofore unknown on the Israeli stage. The international musical cooperations that Raichel has created throughout his career have turned him into a cultural ambassador for millions of fans, representing a world full of hope in which musical collaborations remove boundaries between people coming from different backgrounds and cultures. His music is the beating drum of a troubled region that serves as a source of inspiration for a young generation for the promise of a better future.”
Since its establishment in 1992 to help strengthen the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, the B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism has recognized excellence in reporting on contemporary Diaspora-Jewish communities and on the State of Israel-Diaspora relations in Israeli media. The award is widely recognized as a prestigious prize by the Israeli media industry as the most prestigious prize in its field.
The distinguished members of the award jury are: Asher Weill, chair, publisher and editor of ARIEL- The Israel Review of Arts and Letters from 1981-2003; Yehudith Auerbach, professor in the School of Communication at Bar Ilan University; Gabriela Shalev, former Israel ambassador to the United Nations and professor at Ono Academic College; Bambi Sheleg, founder of Eretz Acheret, a staff member at Mandel School for Educational Leadership and a 2011 award winner; Shalom Kital, former general director for News Company, Channel 2; and Eytan Bentsur, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs director general.The B’nai B’rith World Center Award for Journalism is named for the late Wolf Matsdorf and his wife Hilda. Wolf was an editor of the B’nai B’rith World Center Journal “Leadership Briefing” and a journalist in Israel and Australia. Hilda was a pioneer in social work in both Australia and Israel.
The award is made possible through donations from Daniel Schydlowsky, a professor and a member of the B’nai B’rith World Center International Board of Governors (Lima, Peru and Washington D.C.), and the Matsdorf family.
Jewish Rescuers Citation Presented Posthumously to Wilfrid Israel
A friend of both Albert Einstein and Chaim Weizmann and an ardent pacifist in his youth, Israel became one of the leading figures in the rescue of Jewish children and youngsters from Nazi persecution before and during the Second World War. He was a key link in the famous ‘Kindertransport’ in which 10,000 German Jewish children found refuge in Britain in l938. Internment camps in Britain for young German Jewish men released from Nazi imprisonment, which he proposed, saved another 8,000 lives. It was only after ensuring the safety of his 2,000 employees, and paying ransom to save many Jewish friends, that Wilfrid Israel left Germany for England, days before the outbreak of war in 1939. Although he avoided public office and shunned publicity—leading to the fact that his rescue efforts remain largely unknown—Israel maintained links with leading figures in British politics and society that were vital to his work. His dual (British-German) nationality did not protect him, and he was constantly under surveillance by the Gestapo.
His work with intelligence agent Frank Foley in the British Consulate in Berlin—who was chief passport officer—also helped save many lives. Israel’s report on the pre-war concentration camps, the first of its kind to reach British politicians, was smuggled out to Lord Herbert Samuel, head of the Anglo-Jewish delegation to the Home Office, which authorized the Kindertransport. Once in Britain, Wilfrid Israel worked for a research team in Oxford, providing background information on German politics to government ministries and also served as an advisor to the Foreign Office refugee department. He became the intermediary between anti-Nazi German exiles and the British government and argued for British recognition of resistance groups within Germany.
At the same time, Wilfrid Israel maintained close ties with the Jewish Agency, and was busy in Lisbon planning the rescue of children from Nazi occupied Europe to pre-state Israel through Spain when his plane was downed by the Luftwaffe in the Bay of Biscay, along with British actor and intelligence officer Leslie Howard on June 1, 1943. Wilfrid Israel’s rescue efforts are credited with saving over 50,000 Jewish lives. The ceremony was held on June 1 at the Wilfrid Israel Museum in Kibbutz Hazorea in the Lower Galilee, to which Israel had bequeathed his priceless collection of Asian Art—73 years to the day that he was killed. His relative, David Hashavit, received the certificate on behalf of the Israel family.
Speaking to the audience of about 100 people, Roet said that it was time Jewish rescuers during the Holocaust were given the same recognition accorded Righteous Among the Nations. Schneider noted that since its establishment in 2011, the Jewish Rescuers Citation has been presented to 140 heroes for rescue activities in Germany and across Nazi-occupied Europe during the Holocaust. “The citation is not meant to cast aspersions on those Jews who were not in a position to engage in rescue efforts but to recognize those who took advantage of unique circumstances and personality to assist others while they themselves faced grave dangers.”
B’nai B’rith Hosts Second MEP Mission to Israel
Meeting with MK Yehiel Bar Secretary General of the Israeli Labor Party
The mission program, developed by the World Center, included extensive consultations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on EU-Israel relations, anti-Semitism, fundamental changes in the Middle East and incitement by the Palestinian Authority. The mission visited the Gaza periphery community of Netiv Ha’asara where they met with residents living under the threat of Hamas rocket and tunnel attacks and heard an IDF security briefing. Meetings were held with MK and former government minister Benjamin (Ze’ev) Begin (Likud), Labor Party Secretary General MK Hilik Bar, human rights lawyer and professor, and former Canadian Attorney General Irwin Cotler, Israel Police spokesman Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld, head of the Counterterrorism Bureau at Israel’s National Security Council Eitan Ben David and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Senior Advisor on International Affairs Jonathan Schachter. The group also held an in-depth discussion on illegal EU-funded Palestinian building in Area C with Meir Deutsch, director of policy and government relations for Regavim (National Land Protection Trust) and on legal aspects of the Israel-Palestinian conflict with former Ministry of Foreign Affairs legal advisor Prof. Robbie Sabel—both with the participation of the Ambassador of Spain to Israel Fernando Carderera and the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Romanian Embassy Gabriel Sopanda.
On his additional day in Israel, MEP Aguilar met with anti-Semitism expert Manfred Gerstenfeld, conferred with Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer together with World Center Chairman Haim Katz, and traveled to Alfei Menashe in Samaria for a meeting with Dani Dayan, incoming Israel consul general in New York and former chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria. While in Jerusalem, the group was guided in the Western Wall Tunnel by Chief Archeologist Avi Solomon and also visited the Israel Museum. Both MEPs expressed gratitude for the extensive program that provided new insights into the complex challenges facing the State of Israel. Schneider noted that the mission provided an important opportunity to present to the participants the Israeli perspective on such issues as the two-state solution, terrorism, demography and double-standards that are largely drowned out in the propaganda onslaught conducted by anti-Israeli forces in Europe in general and at international bodies — such as the European Parliament — in particular.
The outcomes of the missions were significant and multi-layered and included a conference entitled “The Fight Against Terrorism: The Need for Cooperation” incited by MEP Frunzulica in cooperation with B’nai B’rith and the Israel Mission to the EU with the participation of two renowned Israeli intelligence experts.
B’nai B’rith World Center and Keren Kayemeth Leisrael Hold Unique Holocaust Day Ceremony Marking the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers
This years’ event memorialized the rescue efforts of Jewish educator and Leningrad resident Shmuil Markowitz Pevzner (1912 –1991). According to survivors’ testimonies Pevzner served as the director of the Polish troupe in the Soviet Pioneers Camp in Druskeninkai, Lithuania when on June 22, 1941, the Nazis launched “Operation Barbarossa” and attacked the area. Pevzner succeeded in rescuing all 300 children from the camp, including about 140 Jewish children from Bialystok, Poland, and the surrounding region, and retreating with them by train to the safety of the Soviet Far East. For the 12 day journey, they were under repeated German aerial attack. Pevzner established a home for the children in the Udmurtia Republic under the Soviet government’s patronage, caring for them through extreme weather conditions and shortages until World War II ended. The children—only four of whom found any surviving parents after the war—were repatriated to Poland in 1946, and most immigrated to Israel. Pevzner was decorated by Poland and the Soviet Union for his rescue of the children. The director of the Lithuanian troupe at the camp, Stasys Sviderskis, was recognized in 1997 by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations for his role in the rescue.
“It is appropriate that these days when divisions among us are escalating and dialogue between various groups in society has become polarized, that we remember the spirit of solidarity represented by Shmuel Markowitz Pevsner. That spirit kept Jews safe even in the most difficult times, lifted us out of the crematorium and ashes and led us to fulfill the Zionist dream of a State of Israel,” KKL-JNF Chairman Danny Atar said.
The Kaddish at the ceremony was read by Ofer Cohen, father of Border Cadet Cpl. Hadar Cohen who was 19 years old when he was killed in a terror attack at the Damascus Gate on Feb. 3.
“The pledge ‘We will not be led like sheep to the slaughter’ turned a gentle and smiley girl into a brave warrior. I ask the military commanders of the Israel Defense Forces to educate new generations of fighters in Hadar’s image,” Cohen said.
Pevzner was represented at the ceremony by his son Dr. Mark Pevzner and grandson Boris Pevzner, both residents of Udmurtia.
“Today we make historic justice with Samuel Markowitz Pevzner. We as representatives of the Jewish people- praise his accomplishments and commemorate his memory by awarding him posthumously our “Jewish Rescuers Citation,” B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Haim V. Katz said.
Russian Ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein was the guest of honor at the ceremony. He noted that Pevzner’s exploits were one of the most outstanding heroic acts undertaken during WWII by any Soviet citizen. The ambassador noted that the train he commanded was dubbed “Pevzner’s Ark” by the survivors, and that a division of Soviet tanks were annihilated when they refused an order to retreat in order to defend the train from German attack. Noting the 10 million Soviet military casualties during the war—among a total of 28 million Soviet citizens who died—the ambassador warned against ongoing attempts in some countries to falsify history by equating between the Soviet Union and the Nazis and erase the heroic record of Russians, Jews and others who contributed to the victory over the Nazis.
During the ceremony a “Jewish Rescuers Citation” was posthumously conferred on Pevzner by the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust (JRJ) and the B’nai B’rith World Center and on six other Jewish rescuers from Greece, Poland and Hungary. Since the establishment of the Jewish Rescuers Citation in 2011, honors have been awarded to about 100 rescuers who operated in France, Germany, Holland and Hungary.
“Through the ceremony and citation, the organizers seek to right the historical record by giving due recognition to Shmuil Markowitz Pevzner for rescuing these vulnerable children, some as young as seven, and all but four of whom where orphaned by the war’s end. We salute his dedication to the children, supporting them through emotional and physical hardships’ to become upstanding youngsters and adults,” B’nai B’rith World Center director Alan Schneider said.
The event was held at the Martyr’s Forest—a joint Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) and B’nai B’rith project which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust with six million trees planted in the picturesque Jerusalem mountains near Moshav Kesalon. At the pinnacle of the forest stands the “Scroll of Fire” by the renowned sculptor Nathan Rappaport, which invokes the destruction of the Jewish people in the Holocaust and their redemption in the State of Israel. The event will commence with personal testimonies by Holocaust survivors to classes of soldiers.
The phenomena of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of thousands of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe have yet to receive appropriate public recognition and resonance. Many who could have tried to flee preferred to stay and rescue others; some paid for it with their lives. With great heroism Jews in every country in occupied Europe employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods to ensure that some Jews survived the Holocaust there or assisted them in escaping to a safe haven and in doing so foiled the Nazi goal of total genocide against the Jews. The organizers of the ceremony view it as especially important to expose Jewish youth to Jewish rescue during the Holocaust as a model for Jewish solidarity and courage.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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”
The display honors the work of B’nai B’rith member (and long-time Truman friend and business partner) Eddie Jacobson and B’nai B’rith leaders for their advocacy on behalf of U.S.’ recognition of the State of Israel.
Truman gave the pen to Goldman, who presented it in an elaborate silver box to then Israel ambassador Eliyahu Eilat for donation to the State of Israel.
The display now features a photo of the historic ceremony and a explanatory plaque in Hebrew and English. Last summer, B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider, Goldman’s grandson Frank Daniel Goldman and his wife Margo Alexandra Rocklin, visited MFA to pay tribute. The upgrade of the display was initiated by the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem.
B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider represented BBI on January 13 in Jerusalem at the official funeral service for the four Jews murdered on January 9 in the Islamic terrorist attack on the Kosher market in Paris.
With the bodies lying in state and with thousands of mourners in attendance, President Reuven Rivlin said: “The murderer made sure to be in a Jewish shop, and only then did he carry out the massacre. This was pure, venomous evil, which stirs the very worst of memories. This is sheer hatred of Jews; abhorrent, dark and premeditated, which seeks to strike, wherever there is Jewish life. In Paris, in Jerusalem, in Toulouse, and in Tel Aviv. In Brussels, and in Mumbai. In the streets, and in the synagogues. It would be dangerous to deny that we are talking about anti-Semitism, whether old or new,” and called on European government to take immediate action.
He hailed the power and resilience of the Jewish people, who have “managed to rise from the ashes” to build “a thriving state” in which the Jews determine their own destiny.” Israel, he said, would always receive Jews “with open arms. The more Israel is the Jewish homeland and the more Jews there are here the stronger we will be in our homeland.”
French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal, representing the French government, said in her eulogy, that France will not tolerate anti-Semitism and will “unfailingly” fight it.
She declared that “Anti-Semitism has no place in France” and that she seeks to assure those assembled of the “unfailing determination of the French government to fight against all forms and acts of anti-Semitism,” noting that the four victims were posthumously decorated with the Legion of Honor.
Israel opposition leader Isaac Herzog note that his great grandfather was rabbi of a major Parisian synagogue, but that since then life had grown difficult for Jews. “We welcome you to Israel”, he said.
Schneider’s presentation included a review of B’nai B’rith’s history and current activities, along with observations on the interaction between Israeli diplomatic representatives and Jewish communities.
Representatives of the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, Jewish Federations of North America and the World Jewish Congress also briefed the MFA envoys who are poised to take up positions in Oslo, Panama City, Dublin, San Francisco, Moscow, Atlanta, Vienna, Marseilles, New York, Tokyo, Sofia, Mexico City, Brussels, Istanbul, London and Copenhagen, among others.
The delegation included B’nai B’rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz and director Alan Schneider, David Geller (Florida), B’nai B’rith Israel President Michael Nathan, B’nai B’rith Israel deputy president Avraham Huli, Dr. Baruch Levy, Chairman of the WZO’s Comptroller’s Committee and Ofri Ben Porat. The delegation was coordinated by the World Center.
At the plenary, WZO Chairman Avraham Duvdevani said that the WZO has hit a financial crisis due to the lack of state budget and the reclassification of the Jewish National Fund (KKL) as a public trust company.
Until this is resolved following the elections, the WZO will struggle to maintain current programs and will not be able to executive new projects it had planned for 2015. He noted that the WZO’s goals basically remain the same since the first Zionist Congress was convened in Basel by Theodore Herzl in 1897 – 1) establishment of a state led by Zionist values; 2) in gathering of the exiles. Both these goals have been only partially fulfilled.
A series of resolutions were adopted at the session including: encouraging Hebrew Hasbara and Jewish Zionist education; WZO action against growing antisemtism and assimilation; implementation of youth representation per the WZO constitution; establishment of a committee to review the convention between the WZO and the government of Israel.
A B’nai B’rith proposed resolution to amend the WZO constitution so that the Comptroller’s Committee will be independent of the WZO Finance Committee and will be elected each term by the Congress also passed with near-unanimous support.
Other members of the Romania delegation included Mr. Gabriel Vlase, Chairman of the Romanian parliamentary friendship group with the State of Israel and Head of the Romanian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Mrs. Alina Gorghiu, leader of the National Liberal Party and de facto opposition leader, Chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania Mr. Aurel Vainer, Romania’s ambassador to Israel Mrs. Andreea Pastarnac and Israel’s ambassador-designate to Romania Tamar Catarivas Samash.
Topics discussed included: B’nai B’rith’s long history in Romania (from 1888) and current activity there; tolerance and Holocaust-denial legislation in Romania; the good bilateral relations between Romania and Israel;Romania’s position in multilateral organizations on Middle East issues
In a subsequent letter to the World Center Zgonea noted that “the leadership and the members of the Chamber of Deputies value the special relation with the State of Israel and stand ready to further develop it. It was a great satisfaction for us to approach issues of main importance for all of us during our talks. At the same time, I would like to reassure you of our commitment to support measures aimed at improving both the security of the citizens and the culture of tolerance.”
One of the world’s leading women’s soccer teams, FFC Turbine Potsdam, visited Israel on January 18-23 to mark 50 years since the establishment of German-Israeli diplomatic relations. B’nai B’rith World Center Trustee and B’nai B’rith Frankfurt Lodge President Ralph Hofmann initiated the visit that was organized by the World Center.
The team’s trip was a milestone for women’s soccer in Israel and provided an opportunity to improve the local sporting level, while also increasing interest in women’s soccer and improving ties between the two countries. The Israel Ministry of Culture and Sport, the German and Israeli Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Israel Ministry of Tourism, the Embassy of Germany in Israel, the Netanya municipality, the Israeli Embassy in Germany and the Israel Football Association partnered with B’nai B’rith to realize this ambitious project.
Turbine Potsdamis the most accomplished women’s soccer team ever to visit Israel – is a top team in the women’s Bundesliga, the professional soccer league in Germany, and is one of the leading teams in Europe. Founded in 1971 in what was then East Germany (GDR), Turbine Potsdam won the GDR league six times in the 1980s. Since reunification, the Turbine Potsdam has claimed the league title in 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2012. They won the German Football Federation (DFB) Cup in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and won the UEFA Women’s Cup in 2005 and UEFA Women’s Champions League in 2010. Turbine Potsdam also took home the DFB Hall Cup in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2014. A number of team players served on Germany’s under-20 national team that won the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup this year in Canada. Several are also members of the German national team. At home the team enjoys a large devoted fan base. Bernd Schroder, who serves as a volunteer, has coached the team for the entirety of its 43 years of existence.
The team’s visit to Israel included an official friendly match with the Israeli national Under-19 team, a visit to the Wingate Institute, Israel’s national sports academy, training clinics and visits to significant national and historical sites including Jerusalem’s Old City, Masada, Haifa and Yad Vashem.
Thirty players and professional staff along with two representatives of the German television station RBB – none of whom had visited Israel before – participated in the mission.
To view photos and videos form the visit go to our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bbworldcenter.