B'nai B'rith Omaha’s Henry Monsky Lodge calls its signature program “Breadbreakers.” It takes place over lunch during the noon hour. Every Wednesday. It has gone on for over 60 years, at least 49 times a year.
It is a friendship-building, brand-promoting B’nai B’rith educational program, put on primarily, but not exclusively, for the Jewish community. To sustain the program, week in and week out, the Lodge has to get approximately 20 attendees to cover the cost of the buffet lunch. To do that, the Lodge employs the following criteria: recruit the prominent and preeminent, the interesting and influential to tackle a timely topic in a mini-press conference format.
This can be a very challenging task, especially when you have to find 49 people over a year’s time. For the last 14 years, Gary Javitch and co-chair Marty Ricks accepted that challenge, rarely missing the goal and on many occasions going over it. The key to success is, of course, selecting the right guest speaker.
This past week, on Wednesday, March 20, the duo invited Rabbi Mordechai Levin to speak. Rabbi Levin matched the above criteria perfectly.
The rabbi, it seems, just happens to be a personal acquaintance of the new leader of the billion- plus-member Catholic Church, the recently-elected 266th pope.
During his introduction of the rabbi, Javitch noted that the clergyman had been hyped more than any other speaker in the history of Breadbreakers. “Just two days ago,” Javitch said, “our presenter wrote an op-ed piece about the new pope which JTA, a world-wide Jewish wire service, published. Then yesterday, the rabbi’s relationship with the pope was the featured above-the-fold story on the front page of the Omaha World-Herald (in both editions).
Those two articles helped Levin attract a large crowd, drawing nearly 50 people – more than double the average weekly attendance.
“The Buenos Aires-born rabbi distinguished himself as a leader in his home country’s Jewish community,” said Javitch. “He is a past president, a past secretary and a founder of the Latin American region of the Rabbinical Assembly; a past secretary of the Board of Rabbis of Latin America, and he is also a co-founder of the Association of Conservative Congregations in Argentina.”
It was in that context that Rabbi Levin became acquainted with the man, now known to most of the world as “Pope Francis.”
Mixing light humor, insightful information, and utilizing PowerPoint, the rabbi told his story.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Mordechai Levin grew up separately in their country’s capital, but their paths often crossed when one became a rabbi and one achieved the rank of Archbishop and then Cardinal.
Of the then-Cardinal, Rabbi Levin observed, “One of his most distinguishing attributes was that he is a quiet and humble guy. Whereas he could have had a limo pick him up every day, the cardinal instead walked or took local transportation to the church where he worked, often stopping along the way to buy a newspaper from a local street vendor.
“Our local B.A. newspaper,” Rabbi Levin said, “recently reported that shortly after his election, the pope made his own personal long-distance phone call to that street vendor telling him, ‘I am sorry, but I have to cancel my newspaper subscription.’
“The Cardinal attended a number of our Jewish events in Buenos Aires, including a B’nai B’rith program memorializing the 1994 terrorist destruction of the Jewish community center. I expect that his friendly relationships with the Jews will continue on a very positive note.”
Judging by the applause following the rabbi’s thirty-minute interactive presentation, he was a “crowd-pleaser.” But that was to be expected. He was, after all, the right speaker, for the right time.
The B'nai B'rith Henry Monsky Lodge hosted the third part of our mayoral candidate series on Wednesday, March 6 in Omaha, Nebraska at the Blumkin Home Auditorium.
Dan Welch, the third of the four candidates who shared his views on the future of our city, participated in the B'nai B'rith Breadbreakers program.
The event was free and an optional $11 lunch was also available.
Join B'nai B'rith Omaha members at the next Breadbreakers Luncheon on February 27.
Many of you may not know it, but Omaha played a small, but significant role in helping Jews get out of the Soviet Union in the late 1980’s, where they were often trapped.
B'nai B'rith, the Jewish Federation and many Omahans opened their hearts and frequently their pocketbooks to help settle immigrants from the Soviet Union right here in the river city.
Recently, Omaha celebrated the 25th anniversary of the first arrival of Soviet Jews. We helped to make history, and Bob Goldberg, the Director of Strategic Initiatives from the Jewish Federation staff, will recount some of the proud details in the story of how we helped save and improve the lives of many Russians.
To help him tell the story, Russians Anna Yuz-Mosenkis and Marina Sadofsky will join him. We may also have a special surprise guest to recount some of the inside details of all these events.
So join us for lunch, meet someone new, make a new friend and enjoy a very, very proud moment in world history that unfolded right here in Omaha.
Free program: an optional kosher lunch is available for $11.
B'nai B'rith Breadbreakers
Noon to 1 PM
Blumkin Board Room
323 S 132nd St
Omaha, Neb. 68154
The B'nai B'rith Henry Monsky Lodge in Omaha, Neb. welcomed Mayor Jim Suttle to their latest Breadbreakers Luncheon on February 20.
Mayor Suttle is up for re-election and addressed members as part of the B'nai B'rith Omaha Mayoral Candidate speaker series. He let attendees know his positions and what he wants to accomplish if he should win a second term.
Councilwoman Jean Stothert spoke earlier; Dan Welch and Dave Nabity are due to speak before the primary election. See all the candidates. Ask them questions. Be informed.
The program, hosted at the Blumkin Home Auditorium, was free to attend with an optional Kosher lunch is $11.
Rich and Fran Juro have visited over 100 countries. On Wednesday, February 6, 2013, they discussed their recent visit to North Korea at the weekly B'nai B'rith Omaha Breadbreakers' luncheon.
The program, hosted at the Blumkin Home Auditorium, was free to attend. An optional Kosher lunch was offered for $11.
The B'nai B'rith Omaha Breadbreakers Luncheon series on January 16 welcomed University of Nebraska at Omaha Political Science Professor Dick Fellman for a discussion on “Hagel: Yes or No?”
Shortly, the nomination hearings will begin to determine if former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) will be the next Secretary of Defense for the U.S. government. The meeting at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home Auditorium provided an opportunity for B'nai B'rith members to learn about the nominee from a former state senator, Douglas County Commissioner, and a candidate for Congress.
A kosher meal was served to attendees.
The B'nai B'rith Henry Monsky Lodge of Omaha held a "Breadbreakers" lunch program on January 9, 2013, which featured a joint session with AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
For more than 61 years, the weekly B'nai B'rith Breadbreakers program has highlighted what chairman Gary Javitch calls "the prominent and preeminent, the interesting and the influential" from across the City and occasionally, from around the United States.
The advantage of the interactive mini-press conference format is that the members can ask our presenters - which have included governors, top business leaders and even a world class specialist on Alzheimer's - any question.
This LAST week's program included Eric Axel, AIPAC's political director of the Southwest, who traveled from Houston to Omaha to discuss the challenges of educating over 100 new senators and congressmen on the important issues that confront America and to better strengthen the American-Israel relationship.
On this occasion, the lunch group included two of B'nai B'rith Omaha's longest serving members: George Shafer, a never-miss weekly attendee, who turns 95 on January 20, and Sam Epstein, who is 97.
It all came down to the final question in the 27th Annual Edward Zorinsky B’nai B’rith Bible Quiz in Omaha, Nebraska. It was worth 60 points.
If Zev Krausman, who had missed only one question the entire evening, faltered, he would’ve been edged out by Aaron Zipursky, who took second place in the contest, held on December 11.
Throughout the evening, students and spectators were enlightened and also entertained, as Quiz Master Gloria Kaslow asked the contestants multiple rounds of challenging questions from the Books of Leviticus, Numbers and Esther in the Jewish Publication Society’s version of the Bible.
The final results were as follows:
> First Place, winning $600 in scholarship funds – Zev Krausman;
> Second Place, winning $350 in scholarship funds – Aaron Zipursky;
> Third Place, winning $250 in scholarship funds – Sam Lieb;
> Fourth Place Tie, each winning $125 in scholarship funds – Ethan Potash and Max Weiner
Other quiz participants were Aaron Kurtzman and Max Polack. Each participant also won a $20 cash prize for answering a minimum of three questions correctly. The first place winner won an additional $30 (total $50).
Cantor Wendy Shermet and Hazzan Michael Krausman launched the program with blessings and songs to celebrate the fourth night of Chanukah.
At the start of the quiz, special thanks were also extended to this year’s judges: Rabbis Steven Abraham, Josh Brown and Yaakov Weiss; organizers Steve Riekes, chairperson, Gary Javitch, Gloria Kaslow, and Stan Mitchell.
Quiz founder, Steve Riekes, invited questions and requests for membership information be directed to him at 402-492-9800 or emailed to Deb Marburg at the B’nai B’rith office firstname.lastname@example.org.
Programs & Events:
Get involved with B'nai B'rith International today!