by Dara Horn
In 2009, when I published “All Other Nights,” a novel about Jewish spies in the Civil War, I was invited to speak at Temple Ohev Sholom in Harrisburg, Pa. I arrived to discover 19th-century military tents in the social hall, populated by Civil War re-enactors in period dress. But as I enjoyed the reception’s matzo ball gumbo, what I found most unsettling was the real living history in the room: the synagogue’s elderly congregants...
When the Southern states seceded in 1861, most American churches split in half — which is why to this day there are Southern Baptists and Southern Methodists. There were national Jewish organizations in 1861, including B’nai B’rith and several others, but none of them split during the Civil War. One could attribute this to the community’s small size (there were about 130,000 American Jews in 1861), but I think there is also a far more profound reason...more.
In the more than two decades Bud Selig has been Commissioner of Major League Baseball, the landscape has been dramatically transformed. There is labor peace and, not coincidentally, record attendance and revenues. New stadiums have sprouted. Wild Cards and Interleague Play have been introduced. The World Baseball Classic has made baseball a global industry.
And none of that had anything to do with why Selig was at the St. Regis Hotel on Thursday night to accept the B'nai B'rith International 2013 Distinguished Humanitarian Award.
The Commissioner talks often about the sport's role as a social institution. And it's not just words. There are Urban Youth Academies and the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program. There is Stand Up 2 Cancer, not to mention the Mother's Day breast cancer and Father's Day prostate cancer initiatives and skin cancer awareness...more.
Haaretz: U.S. Senate passes immigration bill with provisions for Jewish camp counselors, religious refugees
The immigration overhaul passed in the U.S Senate includes provisions that protect a visa program used by Jewish summer camps and that makes permanent a law that facilitates immigration for victims of religious persecution.
The bipartisan bill passed Thursday by the Senate, 68-32, creates a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented workers living in the United States.
A broad array of Jewish groups supported the reforms, and lavished praise on its passage, although its fate in the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives is uncertain.
Other groups praising the bill included the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and Bend the Arc...more.
Hungary’s government must do more to condemn political anti-Semitism, the State Department’s anti-Semitism envoy said in a letter to Jewish groups.
“Prime Minister Viktor Orban strongly denounced anti-Semitism in his address to the World Jewish Congress in Budapest last month,” said the June 25 letter from Ira Forman. A number of American Jewish groups wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry in mid-May about the phenomenon...
Signatories included Agudath Israel of America, American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, HIAS, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Federations of North America, NCSJ, the Rabbinical Assembly, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Simon Wiesenthal Center, World Jewish Congress and World Jewish Restitution Organization...more.
European Jewish Press: Israel, Jewish groups slam ‘politicised’ UNESCO Palestinian vote on Jerusalem
by Shari Ryness
The resolution, drafted by Jordan at the apparent instigation of fellow UNESCO members Palestine, condemned a series of Israeli developments in the Jewish capital, including the recent addition of a tramway, as well as building an elevator by the Western Wall, on the grounds of damaging the “integrity and authenticity” of the ancient city. Despite receiving 10 abstentions from the 21 member committee, as abstentions are not factored into the overall vote count, the resolution was passed by eight votes to three, with objections coming from close Israeli allies Germany, as well as Switzerland and Estonia. Arab States, such as Algeria, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are thought to have supported the resolution...
Meanwhile, B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs insisted the resolution was “just the latest example of the Palestinians exploiting their unilaterally-pursued elevated status within such bodies as UNESCO to push an anti-Israel agenda and to divert the UN from upholding its mission”...more.
Albany Tribune: B’nai B’rith International Honors Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig With Distinguished Humanitarian Award
B’nai B’rith International bestowed Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig with the Distinguished Humanitarian Award on June 27 at the St. Regis New York.
The B’nai B’rith Distinguished Humanitarian Award recognizes personal and professional commitments to improving the lives of others at the community and global levels.
“I am truly honored to be here, as all of us at Major League Baseball join you in the celebration of B’nai B’rith International’s 170th anniversary. I didn’t think anything was older than baseball, but you guys are,” Selig said. “On behalf of Major League Baseball and our 30 clubs I am deeply humbled to accept the Distinguished Humanitarian Award from B’nai B’rith International, whose mission I have always admired and whose ideals are shared by so many of the men and women who are fortunate enough to work in the game of baseball...more.
In all the hullabaloo surrounding the Brewers 20th anniversary celebration of the Racing Sausages earlier this week, you may have missed the news about another Milwaukee baseball stalwart: Bud Selig.
The longtime commissioner of Major League Baseball and former Milwaukee Brewers owner received the B’nai B’rith International Distinguished Humanitarian Award Thursday night. MLB.com has video and a story about the New York ceremony, which featured remarks from Selig, Joe Torre and Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson...more.
by Adam Kredo
A controversial United Nations body that granted Palestine member status has falsely claimed that Israel is intentionally destroying holy sites in Jerusalem, prompting complaints from the United States, the Israeli government, and American Jewish groups.
The U.N.’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, otherwise known as UNESCO, issued the report last weekend just days before Secretary of State John Kerry made his fifth trip to Israel...
“If they [the Palestinians] really had any intention of coming to the table without preconditions to discuss the issues that separate Israelis and Palestinians they wouldn’t be resorting in the middle of this effort to business as usual,” Daniel Mariaschin, executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International (BBI), told the Washington Free Beacon.
BBI, a world aid organization, has had observers stationed at the United Nations for decades and has closely tracked the Palestinian’s abuse of the world body.
BBI petitioned UNESCO to explain why it permitted the latest resolution, but has yet to receive a response...more.
by Leon Gilden
There can be no topic in Jewish life about which more articles have been written, organizations formed and meetings held than Jewish continuity. What do we know about ourselves from a historic, social economic, religious and cultural point of view? The answer is that the foremost element of continuity must be education.
Ah, but then we are Jews. Religiously diverse, culturally diverse, economically diverse, spread over all the continents and, above all, educationally fragmented.
The Forward on June 7 published a column titled “The Other Threat,” by editor Jane Eisner, which was a well-researched article that dealt with the growth of the haredi population and raised the question of whether the “unchecked growth of Jewish fundamentalism” is an existential threat to Jewish life in America. It ends with a conclusory statement that reads, “The result is a larger than ever proportion of Jews who, by all accounts, don’t much care about being Jewish.”
At the same time, in the most recent edition of the B’nai B’rith magazine, there is an article about the increase in Hebrew language charter schools. Religious instruction is off limits, open enrollment resulting in black and Hispanic children attending is mandatory, and it is all paid for by the state in which the schools are located. Teachers use Hebrew texts to teach the children, but the Bible cannot be used. A former Florida congressman who is the founder of the schools in Florida “makes no secret of the fact that his main goal ... is to give more kids a Jewish education.” He then asks, “How do you expect to address continuity in America if 92 percent of Jews don’t have Jewish education?” This is a truly pertinent question to which he replies, “The Hebrew charter school has the potential to change that.” Draw your own conclusion...more.
B’nai B’rith International disassociated itself from an article critical of Gilad Shalit published in a Canadian Jewish newspaper closely associated with B’nai Brith Canada.
In anticipation of Shalit’s four-city visit to Canada in September, the Jewish Tribune criticized the former captive Israeli soldier.
“The Jewish Tribune story in no way represents the views of B’nai B’rith International or its members and supporters around the world,” B’nai B’rith International said in a statement. “B’nai B’rith International has the deepest respect for Shalit and the horrors he endured as a Hamas captive.”
The statement added that the organization hosted Shalit as a guest at the B’nai B’rith Europe Young Jewish Adult Forum in London last November, where he was made an honorary B’nai B’rith International member....more.
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