Let me take a few moments to talk about B’nai B’rith. As you all know by now, B’nai B’rith has obviously played a major role in my life and as some of you know on various occasions I have been asked why I chose B’nai B’rith and though there are many answers to that question I thought I could sum it up for you tonight by paraphrasing some of the words of Edmund Fleg, a French Jew, who left Judaism and then returned in 1927 when he learned of the coming birth of his grandchild. He wrote an essay to that grandson entitled “I Am a Jew Because.” I believe that if I paraphrase those words to read “I am a Ben B’rith Because” you will understand what motivates me and what B’nai B’rith is all about. So let me begin.
- I am a Ben B’rith because B’nai B’rith demands no abdication of the mind.
- I am a Ben B’rith because whenever there are tears and suffering the Ben B’rith weeps.
- I am a Ben B’rith because whenever the cry of despair is heard the Ben B’rith hopes.
- I am a Ben B’rith because for B’nai B’rith the world is not finished, human beings will complete it.
- I am a Ben B’rith because for B’nai B’rith humanity is not finished; we are still creating humanity.
- I am a Ben B’rith because B’nai B’rith places human dignity above all things, even religion itself.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is because of those guiding principles that through B’nai B’rith, I have helped feed the indigent on Passover and Chanukah, I have helped distribute medicines and provide housing to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and I have helped our senior citizens live a more secure and productive life through our senior housing program.
I have seen my eldest grandson learn to appreciate his Judaism more through the activities of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization.
I have fought the ills of anti-Semitism and finally, I have advocated for the welfare of the only democracy in the Middle East, the State of Israel.
So tonight, I want to thank B’nai B’rith for this award, but most of all I want to thank B’nai B’rith for making my life a more productive and meaningful one by allowing me to take part in tikkun olam, helping to repair the world.