B’nai B’rith Canada’s 2013 President’s Mission to Israel took place on May 20-29. Participants included President Eric Bissell, CEO Frank Dimant, Director for Community Action Pearl Gladman, former President Ted Greenfield and other board members.
As in the case of past B’nai B’rith Canada missions to Israel, the B’nai B’rith World Center was instrumental in devising and implementing a varied and engaging itinerary including meetings, briefings, tours and site visits. Among other things, the group met with newly appointed Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in his Knesset chambers and with Knesset members Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), Moshe Feiglin (Likud Yisrael Beitenu) and Elazar Stern (Hatenua). They also held a working meeting with Minister of Tourism Uzi Landau. The group was briefed by top Israeli diplomats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At Yad Vashem, the group held a special ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at which President Bissell spoke of his own experience during the Holocaust and conducted an in-depth tour of the historical museum. The group also visited the cities of Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel and the town of Beit El in Judea and Samaria where they met mayors and senior municipality officials. In Hebron, the group toured significant archeological findings from the time of Abraham, Jewish residential enclaves and the Tomb of the Patriarchs with Jewish community spokesman David Wilder. During the visit Wilder presented Dimant with honorary citizenship of Hebron in recognition of his long-time support for the community and a certificate of gratitude to Bissell for bringing the mission to Hebron. They also met with Sheik Jaab – a local Moslem leader – who presented his plan for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, including his opposition to the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority.
Another day was dedicated to touring Sderot and the Gaza border area where the group met with Sderot Mayor David Buskila, visited the Yiftach forward IDF base and heard a security briefing from Gaza Division spokesperson Lieutenant Sharon Banian. They also visited with representatives of the Gaza evacuees in Nitzan. While in Sderot the group visited the Keren Or community center that specializes in alternative schooling for alienated youth that B’nai B’rith Canada has supported. The group also enjoyed bathing in the Dead Sea, visiting the Tel Aviv Museum and tasting wines at the award-winning Psagot winery. They had a unique Shabbat experience in Jerusalem where they welcomed Shabbat at the Kotel and had morning prayers at the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem where the group received a VIP welcome. The highlight of the mission was a tour of Temple Mount with Temple Institute Director Rabbi Haim Richman.
B'nai B'rith World Center
The B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem is the hub of B'nai B'rith International activities in Israel. The Center serves as the key link between Israel and B'nai B'rith members and supporters around the world.