The Philadelphia Jewish Voice ran a story on B'nai B'rith International’s Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations throughout Latin America.
Ceremonies were held in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay that featured appearances and remarks from presidents, high-ranking ministers, legislators and members of the religious community.
Click here to read the story on PJVoice.org
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed every year on Jan. 27, the date in 1945 the allies liberated the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. In addition to U.S. observances, B’nai B’rith International commemorated this significant day across Latin America.
In Argentina Human Rights Office Director Claudio Avruj, who is also a former B’nai B’rith executive vice president of District 23, held a memorial service in the Square of the Shoah in Buenos Aires. A memorial statue for the Righteous Among Nations was inaugurated in the square. Keynote speakers included Avruj and Minister of Culture Pablo Avelluto. Other government officials and leaders of the Jewish community attended the event as well. Argentine President Mauricio Macri hosted a delegation of Holocaust survivors in the presidential house, Casa Rosada, in Buenos Aires the day before.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Santiago held an event that was attended by more than 300 people. Acting president of Chile, Jorge Burgos and Leon Cohen, president of B’nai B’rith Latin America and the Jewish community in Chile, spoke at the commemoration ceremony. Writer Maria Angelica Puga gave a touching tribute to her great grandmother, Maria Edwards. Edwards, who rescued Jewish children throughout the Holocaust from the Rothschild Hospital in Paris, is the only Chilean recognized by the Righteous Among Nations. Puga accepted the Light and Memory Award in Edwards’ honor.
Uruguay’s congress held a special session commemorating the day, and acting Foreign Minister Jose Luis Cancela, Israeli Ambassador Nina Ben Ami and hundreds of others attended the event. President Tabare Vazquez gave a speech that was broadcast across the country on the radio and several television channels. In his speech Vazquez stated, "Our remembrance of Holocaust victims is also a commitment to fight for a real never more, and a commitment to fight for a better future, which was also dreamed by those who perished in this tragedy."
Brazil held several events across the country in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. The commemoration ceremony in Brasilia took place in Colegio de Abogados (Lawyer’s Hall), and was attended by congressmen, ambassadors, B’nai B’rith Brazil President Abraham Goldstein and other Jewish community leaders. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was abroad at the time, had a message read aloud to attendees at the ceremony by Chief of Staff Jaques Wagner. In her message Rousseff stated, "This day brings to our memory the most horrifying moment in history. We want to join our hearts with those who lost their families in the Shoah. We will always keep fighting in order to avoid that the horror of the Shoah never happens again."
In Ecuador, the University of the Americas hosted an event by the U.N. office, the Israeli Embassy, Albert Einstein College and the local Jewish community. Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia held special congressional sessions observing the day, and several members and leaders of the Jewish community attended these commemoration ceremonies. A minute of silence was observed across Panama, and all radio stations fell silent, and throughout the day, national television channels showed documentaries about the Holocaust.
Paraguay also held a special session in congress and Israeli Ambassador Peleg Lewi and several other ambassadors came to the event. President of the Permanent Commission of the Congress, Senator Adolfo Wiens, gave a speech on the Holocaust and human dignity. “This remembrance is a warning against hate, discrimination and racism,” Wiens said.
The Dover Post ran information on B'nai B'rith International’s Diverse Minds Writing Challenge and alerted the community that the contest is now accepting submissions.
Click here to read the story on DoverPost.com
B’nai B’rith International is accepting submissions for the Diverse Minds Writing Challenge, in which high school students write and illustrate a children’s book that teaches acceptance.
The challenge is open to students in grades 9-12 who live in Delaware and are enrolled in Kent, New Castle and Sussex county public schools or private, charter or independent schools.
The program, now in its 10th year, has published 29 original children’s books, awarded more than $250,000 in college scholarships and grants and donated more than 35,000 books to public schools, libraries and community organizations across the country.
The winning student or team of students will have their book published in print and as an e-book and will win a $5,000 college scholarship. Second place wins $2,000 for college, and the third-place winner will receive $1,000.
The Star Democrat in Easton, Md., ran a short story on the B'nai B'rith International Diverse Minds Writing Challenge, open to students in Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Harford, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester counties in Maryland for the second year in a row.
Click here to read the story on StarDem.com
B’nai B’rith International has announced a call for submissions for the Diverse Minds Writing Challenge, its signature tolerance education program that asks high school students to write and illustrate a children’s book that teaches acceptance. The contest, which is offered through the support of Delmarva Power, is available to students in the Delmarva region.
The challenge is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. In the past nine years, B’nai B’rith, a Jewish humanitarian, human rights and advocacy organization, has published 29 original children’s books, awarded more than $250,000 in college scholarships and grants, and donated more than 35,000 books to public schools, libraries and community organizations across the country.
The winning student, or team of students, will not only be published, but also will secure a $5,000 college scholarship. The book will be accessible in an e-book format and available on iTunes as a free download.
Students enrolled in Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Harford, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester county public schools, or enrolled in private, charter or independent schools within those counties, are eligible to participate. Students must be in grades nine to 12. The deadline for contest submissions is March 11.
The second-place winner will earn a $2,000 college scholarship, and the third-place winner will receive $1,000 in financial aid for college.
The teacher who oversees the winning entry will secure a $1,000 grant, and the school of the first-place winning student receives a $500 grant.
A panel of judges from the worlds of education, the arts, business and government, along with B’nai B’rith International leaders, will review the entries and select the winners.
Algemeiner: 'a dangerous moment for america, allies': major jewish groups uneasy as us lifts economic sanctions against iran
The Algemeiner detailed the reaction of domestic and international Jewish groups following the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran.
The article says organizations met the news “with trepidation,” and highlighted B'nai B'rith International’s reinforced skepticism of Iran’s nuclear intentions and its “willingness to go forward in compliance with the JCPOA” citing the “US decision to slap sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile tests last October and December.”
Click here to read the story on Algemeiner.com
US and international Jewish organizations responded with trepidation to the US’s instantaneous lifting of banking, steel, shipping and other sanctions on Iran on Saturday that came with the implementation of the nuclear deal.
The American Jewish Committee responded by saying the nuclear deal, which allows entry to businesses that for years have been forbidden from having access to the Iranian market, should not mean the return to “business as usual.”
“We call on governments to make it clear – to their countries’ business sector – that the JCPOA does not represent a return to ‘business as usual’ with the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. A range of tough US sanctions, which AJC supports, remains in effect; Iran’s non-nuclear activities, which are ongoing and destabilizing, are subject to continued – and likely escalating – sanctions,” a statement by AJC on Sunday read.
AJC and the Anti-Defamation League addressed Iran’s ongoing human rights abuses and expansionism in the Middle East, in part through proxies like Hezbollah, with the ADL calling for US “pushback” on these policies.
“Unfortunately, in the broadest sense, Iran’s behavior since the nuclear deal has not instilled confidence in its desire to return to the family of nations, as evidenced by its testing of advanced ballistic missiles in violation of UN policies; its institutionalized discrimination against its own religious, ethnic and LGBT minorities; its continued aggression in the region including in Lebanon, Yemen and Syria, where its support of the brutal Assad regime has contributed to the Syrian civil war and disastrous refugee crisis; and in its continued anti-Israel and anti-Semitic policies, such as its latest Holocaust cartoon contest, a forum for Holocaust denial that is unacceptable in any circumstance,” wrote ADL National Chairman Marvin D. Nathan and CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) noted that “Implementation Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a turning point in Iran’s strength as a terrorist state and in its ability to pursue regional dominance. Starting today, Iran can repatriate tens of billions of dollars from frozen foreign accounts, fueling its efforts to expand its reach across the region.”
AIPAC called the lifting of sanctions, which coincided with Iran’s release of five US citizens, a “dangerous moment for America and our allies.” The group called on policymakers to confront “regional proxies” while taking “firm action to support our allies, especially Israel.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel would continue to monitor Iranian “international violations, including regarding the nuclear agreement.” He called on the international community to enact “aggressive sanctions” against any violation concerning the nuclear deal, the testing of ballistic missiles that could be used to deliver a nuclear warhead, and terrorism.
B’nai B’rith International said the US decision to slap sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile tests last October and December reinforced their skepticism about Iran’s willingness to go forward in compliance with the JCPOA.
“There are still many steps Iran must follow to meet its obligations, and we urge the P5+1 (United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom) and the IAEA to maintain due vigilance and scrutiny to ensure Iran does not cheat and develop a nuclear weapon,” the group said.
Over the weekend The Jerusalem Post ran a story on the B'nai B'rith International, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Order of AHEPA and American Hellenic Institute's important important visit to Israel, Greece and Cyprus.
The article quotes a B'nai B'rith statement on plans for the trip, and describes the changing relationship between the three countries with a summit between the heads of state to take place at the end of the month.
Click here to read the story on JPost.com
Leaders of American Jewish and Hellenic groups have joined together to visit Israel, Greece and Cyprus in order to “evaluate the critical and developing relationship among these three countries in security, energy, economics and political areas,” B’nai B’rith International, which is taking part in the initiative, announced.
The 12-member delegation is scheduled to convene in Jerusalem from Sunday to Wednesday. The participants will then continue to Nicosia, Cyprus, for a day and make their final stop in Athens from January 14 to 18.
The delegations’ members come from four organizations: B’nai B’rith International, the Conference of Presidents of Jewish Organizations, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association and the American Hellenic Institute.
Through their visit, the group leaders will discuss possibilities for enhancing cooperation and understanding among them.
“The strategic relationship between Greece, Cyprus and Israel has evolved, helping to lend stability to the region with broader implications,” B’nai B’rith International and the Conference of Presidents wrote in a joint statement. “The delegation of American Hellenic and American Jewish community leaders plans to explore the major policy issues and concerns as well as ways to foster ties between the people of the three countries.”
As part of the trips, they will also visit military installations to study the security challenges in the area.
A three-way summit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia that is due to take place at the end of the month.
The formal announcement of that summit was made last month, soon after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled an interest in normalizing ties with Israel.
Netanyahu made reference to the meeting during a speech he delivered in the Knesset on December 16 saying that the three leaders will discuss the natural gas issue, the war on terror and Islamic extremism, and commercial and trade cooperation between their countries.
JBS News Update covers B'nai B'rith International’s visit to Israel, Greece and Cyprus, where members of the Jewish and American-Hellenic communities are participating in a number of meetings to evaluate the critical and developing relationship between these three countries on security, energy, economics and political areas.
Click below to watch, starting at the 4:11 mark.
Former B'nai B'rith International colleague Jason Langsner wrote a piece for EJewish Philanthropy dispelling the notion that millennials don’t make charitable donations by detailing his support for Israel, B’nai B’rith International and the Jewish community at large through various donations of money and volunteering his time.
Langsner also says he personally responded to the calls of “divestment” from Israel on college campuses by “investing” in an Israel bond and donating it to his alma mater Georgetown University. Click here to read Langsner’s full piece on EJewishPhilanthropy.com
Millennials give. My generation is an often misunderstood one. We may not give in a traditional way, such as how our parents or grandparents gave back; but according to the most recent Millennial Impact Report from the Case Foundation – approximately 84% of Millennials made a charitable donation last year.
When I think of how Millennials give, I often think of how my friends and I choose to give and specifically how that relates to Maimonides’ Eight Levels of Tzedekah.
The chabad.org website describes, “the greatest level, above which there is no greater, is to support a fellow Jew by endowing him with a gift or loan, or entering into a partnership with him, or finding employment for him, in order to strengthen his hand until he need no longer be dependent upon others.”
It is the old adage of giving a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teaching a man to fish and he eats for life… But rather than fish, I proudly find ways to support Jewish and Israeli causes that I believe in through volunteering my time, applying my professional honed skills in marketing-communications for their charitable causes, and (of course) donating money to help these organizations to continue to do the important work that they do year-in-and-year-out.
Last year, as I made a career change from a full-time professional for a Jewish communal organization (e.g. B’nai B’rith International) into the private sector, I choose to make all of my major tzedekah in the form of Jewish giving for the year. Yes, I did get swept up into the ice bucket challenge craze; I participated in friend-raising campaigns as individuals ran marathons for other charitable causes; and I gave to my alma mater and graduate school – for some ad hoc giving – but I made a conscious decision to try to give Jewish first where and when I can. I choose to give to Jewish nonprofits whose missions I believed in. And I choose to give to them both in standard donations of cash as-well-as through a double mitzvah where I would purchase Israel bonds online for these charitable organizations.
I’ve held many Israel bonds in my own investment portfolio, which I try to keep balanced between stocks; bonds; cash; and property – but last year was the first year I choose to purchase additional Israel bonds and donate them.
It was my decision then to “support a fellow Jew by endowing him with a gift or loan,” but rather than simply making a loan to another Jew – I choose to make a loan to the democratic Jewish State of Israel. And I choose to have that loan paid back, not to me, but to Jewish causes that I believed in. I purchased and donated Israel bonds to The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), to B’nai B’rith International, and to other organizations that I know are doing incredible work to support the Jewish people in Israel and Jewish people in the Diaspora.
This year, in 2015, I have continued that practice. I made purchases of Israel bonds online and donated them to those charitable organizations and others. Faced with a need to respond to a new wave of threats on the streets of Jerusalem and across Israel, and as I was impressed with a Magen David Adom social media program that mirrored the ice bucket challenge social strategy, I choose to make an Israel bond purchase for the American Friends of Magen David Adom this year. I had several conversations with an old friend that moved over to work for the Friends of the IDF and I thus learned more about their work supporting the people that support the freedom and security of Israelis. And as I learned more, I choose to purchase and donate a couple Israel bonds for the FIDF. And I also choose to do something even more different in 2015.
For the last seven years, I have donated not just dollars but a considerable amount of time to the alumni relations activities of Georgetown University – where I received my graduate education. Georgetown provided me with a world class education and I was thankful to have had that opportunity to advance my career and self because of what I learned “on the hilltop.” I was and continue to be thankful of the Jewish learning and opportunities for Jewish engagement on the Georgetown campus; and I still attend High Holiday services at Georgetown University as an alumnus. For these last seven years, I gave back to my graduate school not just in a gift to the annual fund but as the volunteer executive vice president of membership and communications for the Georgetown Alumni Club of Metropolitan Washington, DC, which served the 40,000 alumni in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia community by keeping them connected to the university.
Far too often the American-Jewish community hears only about the negative, and out-right anti-Semitic, experiences that are happening on some college campuses across the U.S. due to some academics and some student groups’ misplaced criticism of Israeli policies (or simply to scapegoat other problems by blaming Israel or the Jewish people). I did not experience that at Georgetown. Georgetown, as America’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university, promotes a culture of open and honest debate and discussions from all parties with a focus “on educating the whole person through exposure to different faiths, cultures, and beliefs.”
Unfortunately we don’t hear about the pro-Israel and supportive experiences on college campuses, like Georgetown’s campus, for Jewish students and alumni. So, as I choose to step down from my volunteer leadership position with the Georgetown Alumni Club to focus more on my professional career and my time commitments to the Jewish community, I purchased an Israel bond and donated it to Georgetown University – my first time giving an Israel bond to a non-Jewish institution. Before that Israel bond matures the funds are put to good use in Israel, and at maturity the interest and the principle amount will go to support the needs of the Georgetown community in the near future.
I shared on my social media accounts how I choose to support Georgetown University, which in 1968 became the first Catholic university in the United States to hire a full-time rabbi on campus, through the donation of an Israel bond. Many of my Facebook friends asked me about the experience and contacted Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds to get more information. Together, a handful of friends and I have supported eight American universities with Israel bonds in 2015. We hope to continue this trend in 2016 and directly respond to those that are calling for the divestment of Israel on college campuses with our own personal decisions to instead “invest” rather than “divest” from Israel on campus through our alumni giving in our own non-traditional Millennial way.
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