Times of Israel reported on a fresh round of divestment resolutions on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s General Assembly and B’nai B’rith International’s reaction.
“By showing disregard for facts, nuance and fairness, ideological activists in the PCUSA have continued to make the denomination an agent of division, wholly irrelevant to promoting genuine peace and reconciliation,” B’nai B’rith is quoted as saying.
Two major US Jewish groups have expressed disappointment at the American Presbyterian Church for endorsing a series of resolutions aimed at intensifying pressure against Israel over its West Bank policies at their biennial General Assembly last week.
The Anti-Defamation League and B’nai B’rith International in a statement Monday both charged the measures voted in by an overwhelming majority at the June 24 meeting served to “demonize” the Jewish state.
The new resolutions come two years after the Presbyterian Church USA ordered denominational divestment from three major US companies it said had profited from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.
Among the Israel-centered measures passed at the biennial assembly was a report titled “Israel-Palestine: For Human Values in the Absence of a Just Peace,” that suggested the church consider alternatives to the two-state solution given “Israel’s policy trajectory of continued settlements and brutal occupation,” which it blamed for the stalemate in peace talks with the Palestinians.
Some church delegates critical of the “pugnaciously flawed” report argued at the meeting its language questioned the right of Israel’s existence as a Jewish homeland, and urged officials to “add content that acknowledges and offers a corrective to the ways anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism complicate global discourse about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
After an amendment affirming Israel’s right “to exist as a sovereign nation” was added to the text, the General Assembly endorsed the report with a 429-129 majority vote.
The General Assembly also passed, by a much wider margin of 407-146, another resolution calling on Presbyterians to “prayerfully study the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel.”
While the 2014 meeting approved the divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard, an amendment to that resolution explicitly rejected support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions umbrella movement which advocates a much broader divestment strategy against Israel and rejects its existence as a Jewish state.
Titled “Standing for Reconciliation and Ending Affiliation with Divisive Coalition,” the text urged the punitive measure be taken against Israel “until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”
A number of objections to the resolution were addressed by the addition of amendments advising church members that they could also consult “resources that oppose this BDS movement” if they wished.
Denominational publications online noted the objections by dozens of Presbyterian clergy and laypeople ranged from accusations of disproportionate focus on the Jewish state to anti-Semitism.
On Monday, the ADL released a statement denouncing the newly passed resolutions.
“We are deeply disappointed with the Presbyterian Church’s decision to embrace motions which forward arguments in favor of a bi-national state and of the anti-Israel BDS campaign,” said ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs Rabbi David Sandmel.
“The efforts by some in the church to vilify and demonize Israel, rather than promote dialogue and reconciliation, are particularly disturbing,” Sandmel said. “Especially egregious was a video that compared Israeli security checkpoints to the Nazi cattle cars that transported Jews to concentration camps.”
The ADL also praised efforts by delegates who voiced opposition to the resolutions during the meeting.
“We note with gratitude that, despite the efforts of a hostile leadership and activists within the church, rank and file members insisted on reasserting favorable language countering those views which was supportive of Israel’s legitimacy, the Jewish right to self determine and the promotion of Jewish-Christian relations,” Sandmel added.
Meanwhile, the Jewish advocacy group B’nai B’rith slammed the Presbyterian Church for “again display[ing] a stunningly overt preoccupation with demonizing just one side of one complex conflict.”
“By showing disregard for facts, nuance and fairness, ideological activists in the PCUSA have continued to make the denomination an agent of division, wholly irrelevant to promoting genuine peace and reconciliation,” the statement said.
NJ.com posted a write-up on the 60th annual Union County Dinner Dance in Springfield, N.J. event. The event was attended by more than 160 people and a number of awards were handed out to outstanding B'nai B'rith and community members.
The award recipients were noted in the story, and are as follows: Master Of A Good Name Leadership Award winner Kenneth Lavroff, Women Of Valor Award winner Davida Berkowitz, Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award winner Miriam Gershwin, Young Leadership Award winner Adam Levoy, and Joseph Tenenbaum, Lodge President and recipient of the B’nai B’rith Lifetime Service Award and 50 year members’ pin.
Click here to read the story on NJ.com
B'nai B'rith of Union County hosted its 60th annual dinner dance on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael in Springfield. Over 160 people attended.
The honorees were feted at a gala dinner dance, which has been held by B'nai B'rith of Union County for the past 60 years. "Each of our honorees has made a unique contribution to the life of our community here in New Jersey and we are proud to honor them and acknowledge their commitment" said Ross who, as a member of the B'nai B'rith International Executive Committee, also brought greetings on behalf of B'nai B'rith International.
Miriam Gershwin is a survivor of the Holocaust. During the war, at great personal risk, and while seeming to work for the Nazi's, she delivered messages from one ghetto to another keeping each community informed of what was going on at the other. After the war, because of her language skills, she aided the American Joint Distribution Committee helping to resettle many displaced persons. Later she came to America, settled in Springfield along with her late husband Naum, also a Holocaust survivor, and their son Sam. She was one of the founding members of Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael of Springfield and a tireless worker for the synagogue's sisterhood and Hadassah.
Joe Tenenbaum, was honored with the Lifetime Service Award and also received a 50 year member pin for his dedicated service to B'nai B'rith. Joe has been the longtime President of the Union County Lodge, serves as a V.P. on the B'nai B'rith Tri-State Regional Board, the Board of the Elin-Unger Post 273 of the Jewish War Veterans, is a life member of Hadassah, a member of Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael of Springfield and a member of the Senior Set of Congregation Israel of Springfield. Joe was honored for his over 50 years of service to the community and to B'nai B'rith.
Davida Berkowitz, the 2016 Eshet Chayil Award recipient is the Executive Director of Congregation Beth Israel of Scotch Plains. Davida is a graduate of the Solomon Schechter Day School and has worked as a Jewish professional for over 19 years. Davida was recognized for her ongoing committment to the Jewish community in her work as a synagogue professional.
Kenneth Lavroff, the recipient of this year's Keter Shem Tov Leadership Award is the owner/manager of Deli King in Clark, N.J.. Ken was honored for his continuous efforts in serving our community for the past 32 years, including feeding our volunteers on Super Sunday, supplying holiday dinners to families in need after 9/11 and in supporting B'nai B'rith and other community service organizations.
Adam Levoy, the fifth honoree this year, was presented with the B'na' B'rith Young Leadership Award for his work on behalf of the Young Leadership Network (YLN) of B'nai B'rith. Adam currently serves as the groups Chairperson and was a participant in the 2015 B'nai B'rith Young Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. and accompanied the YLN group trip to Japan in March 2016 as a guest of the Japanese Government.
B'nai B'rith is an international Jewish service organization which has been serving our communities for over 170 years and is currently found in over 50 countries. For more information about B'nai B'rith you can contact Mark Ross, c/o P.O. Box 111, Springfield, N.J. 07081.
Arutz Sheva - Israel National News posted an article following the B'nai B'rith World Center announcement that it would be honoring Israeli musician and composer Idan Raichel with a citation in recognition of his contribution to fostering Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts.
B'ani B'rith is quoted in the article as saying, "The Idan Raichel Project represents the beating heart of a conflicted region that has become a source of inspiration for younger generations, aiming for a better future."
Click here to read it on IsraelNationalNews.com
A citation will be conferred by the B’nai B’rith World Center upon Israeli musician and composer Idan Raichel in recognition of his contribution to fostering Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts. The citation will be presented at B’nai B’rith World Center’s 24th annual Award for Journalism Recognizing Excellence in Diaspora Reportage in Memory of Wolf and Hilda Matsdorf.
Raichel is very influential in the Israeli cultural world. In a relatively short period of 15 years, this multi-talented artist has become one of the most outstanding musicians in Israel, and one of the most successful Israeli artists abroad. As a producer, keyboardist, lyricist, composer and performer, Raichel created a unique and superb stage presence that was new to the Israeli music scene. The worldwide collaborations that Raichel has created throughout his career have made him a cultural ambassador for millions of fans, hoping to represent a hopeful world, in which artistic collaboration breaks down barriers between people of different backgrounds and beliefs.
He fuses inspiring biblical and original texts with Jewish, African, Latin, and Indian melodies and rhythms to create a winning combination of Israeli and world music in numerous languages. He has sold nearly 650,000 albums in Israel and around the world to date, generated over a million digital downloads, and his YouTube videos have more than 50 million views.
The Idan Raichel Project represents the beating heart of a conflicted region that has become a source of inspiration for younger generations, aiming for a better future. This is true for international audiences who are enriched by Raichel’s energy and see in him an exceptional vision of Israel open to the world. Their excitement during the many performances Raichel has made to “Birthright” and “Masa” audiences is contagious. This is a testimony to their familiarity with the vast body of his work that has already entered the pantheon of Israeli music.
The special citation for fostering Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts was established by B'nai B'rith World Center in 2014. To date, citations were conferred upon Norit Hirsh (2014) and David D'or (2015).
B’nai B’rith International awarded the 2016 National Healthcare Award to Federation of American Hospitals and its CEO Chip Kahn.
Politico Pro Health Care noted the event in its Pulse email, under the “Around Town” section. You can read it below.
Bipartisan Policy Center hosts 9 a.m. conference on medical innovation. Sen. Lamar Alexander and former FDA head Andrew von Eschenbach are among those scheduled to speak. Live webcast.
Senate Aging Committee holds 11 a.m. hearing on caring for the seriously ill. Surgeon, researcher and New Yorker writer Atul Gawande is among those on tap to testify. More.
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation holds Teen Advocacy Day. The foundation is hosting a 12 p.m. "mock hearing" in 902 Hart Senate Building, featuring teenage patients affected by the disease and comments from Sens. Edward Markey and Charles Grassley.
Chip Kahn honored with B'nai B'rith International Achievement award. The Federation of American Hospitals CEO received the award at a Wednesday night gala packed with big names in health policy. Spotted on the very bipartisan guest list: Hillary Clinton health adviser Chris Jennings; ex-CMS head Tom Scully; Nancy Pelosi's health adviser Wendell Primus; PhRMA CEO Steve Ubl; and ex-White House health policy czar Nancy Ann DeParle.
Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin is headed to Australia to “deliver the 34th B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) Gandel Oration,” as noted by the Australian Jewish News.
Mariaschin will give a speech titled “The Evil of Modern Anti-Semitism and the Forces Behind It” for the ADC in both Sydney and Australia.
Scroll down to read Mariaschin's full write-up.
Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin sent a letter to the BBIsrael 88th Conference that took place in May in Tel Aviv, thanking B'nai B'rith for its work, and noting his respect for the organization as his late father Yosef Yoel Rivlin served as president of B'nai B'rith.
Check out the extraordinary letter below, addressed to the more than 100 conference participants.
Radio France Internationale (RFI) produced a piece on Cuban Jews and spoke with the head of the B'nai B'rith Cuban Jewish Relief Project Sienna Girgenti about the organization's work. B'nai B'rith International's more than 20 years of assisting the Cuban-Jewish community is mentioned in the story.
Click below to listen to the story or listen to it on RFI's SoundCloud page.
The B’nai B’rith International Disaster Relief Fund contributed $5,000 to the UOS Goldberg Montessori School in Houston to provide funding for a music program after the school was destroyed during flooding in 2015.
“We were really moved by the fact that the school and all its materials were a major causality of the Memorial Day flood … B’nai B’rith wants to play a part in the school’s rebuilding efforts … We like to make sure that our allocations go to specific projects, so we can connect with a cause, immediately,” longtime B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Committee member Chuck Kaufman told the Jewish Herald-Voice.
The donation will provide a Judaic-music curriculum for five classes of students ages 3-6, as well as cantor services and instruments for the classroom.
UOS Goldberg Montessori School has launched a new music program, thanks in part to a grant from B’nai B’rith International.
The $5,000 allocation will allow the school to purchase new musical instruments and to hire Cantor Francyne Davis Jacobs to play music with the children each week, following the retirement in 2015 of the school’s longtime music teacher, Cantor Irving Dean.
B’nai B’rith’s Chuck Kaufman presented the grant to the school during UOSGMS’ kindergarten graduation on June 3. The ceremony also included a special farewell to Debra Kira, who served as UOSGMS’ head of school over the past six years, during which time the school twice was displaced by floods.
UOSGMS currently is located at Brith Shalom synagogue, which opened its doors to the school in the aftermath of the 2015 Memorial Day flood.
“We were really moved by the fact that the school and all its materials were a major causality of the Memorial Day flood,” said Kaufman, who serves on B’nai B’rith’s Disaster Relief Committee.
“B’nai B’rith wants to play a part in the school’s rebuilding efforts,” he told the JHV. “We like to make sure that our allocations go to specific projects, so we can connect with a cause, immediately.”
Besides the Goldberg School, B’nai B’rith has given recent disaster recovery allocations to flood-affected communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and in Oklahoma.
Kaufman noted that B’nai B’rith’s history in disaster relief dates back to the 1860s.
UOSGMS uses music to help spur early childhood development and to lay the foundation of children’s Jewish identity, according to Kira.
“Musical education is just as important as learning to read and write,” said Kira. “This grant allows us to hire Cantor Francyne Jacobs, who carries on the legacy of Cantor Dean by instilling a love for music in our children.”
Cantor Jacobs volunteered to lead weekly music sessions, both for the primary classes and for the school’s Mommy & Me program, following Cantor Dean’s retirement in November 2015. She said the B’nai B’rith grant will help grow the school’s music program for next year.
“Music is such a huge part of our Jewish lives,” said the cantor, who also is a UOSGMS parent. “We’re looking to buy new instruments, like shakers, drums and other things that are portable, age-appropriate and easy to share. These will allow us to enhance and expand the school’s music program.”
Music was on full display during this year’s kindergarten graduation ceremony.
The graduates performed a selection of musical prayers and Shabbat songs. They also gave a musical tribute to Kira, who leaves Houston this summer to become lower school principal of Columbus Torah Academy in Columbus, Ohio.
Holding signs that spelled out Kira’s name, the children sang: “We want to tell you, ‘Thank you.’ / We’d like to tell you, ‘Goodbye.’/ We’d like to tell you how much we love you. / We love you, Ms. Debra.”
Afterward, each graduate presented Kira with a white rose and a hug.
B'nai B'rith International was quoted in a JTA News article, expressing our solidarity with the LGBT community following the horrific shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Click below to read.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his condolences to the American people in the wake of the mass shooting attack by an ISIS supporter at a gay club in Orlando.
“We are all shocked at the horrific massacre in Orlando. On behalf of the government and people of Israel, I would like to again express our condolences to the American people and the families at this especially difficult hour. This terror threatens the entire world and it is necessary – first of all – that the enlightened countries urgently unite to fight it. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the American people,” Netanyahu said Monday morning at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wrote to President Barack Obama to express his condolences following the attack in Orlando.
“Once again we feel the pain of terrible loss as we see the blood spilled of young and innocent people. There is no comfort for those who have had their loved ones torn away from them,” Rivlin wrote.
“This attack against the LGBT community in Orlando is as cowardly as it is abhorrent. The Israeli people stand shoulder to shoulder with our American brothers and sisters in the moral and just fight against all forms of violence and hatred. On behalf of all of Israel, I send my condolences to the families of the victims, and prayers for a speedy recovery of the injured.”
Forty-nine people were killed after Omar Mateen, 29, of Fort Pierce, Florida, entered the Pulse nightclub armed with an assault rifle and a handgun after 2 a.m. Sunday and opened fire. Mateen, an American-born citizen whose parents are from Afghanistan, called 911 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State shortly after the start of the attack.
Jewish groups condemned the attack.
“An attack on a prominent Orlando gay club at the start of pride month on a night that celebrated the Latino community has all the markers of both an unconscionable hate crime and an act of terrorism on a scale we have not before witnessed in America,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement.
“This heinous attack on a nightclub serving the LGBTQ community is yet another reminder of the serious threat posed by the Islamic State terrorist group, which has inspired attacks against Jews in Belgium, journalists in France, civilians in San Bernardino and now LGBTQ men and women in America.”
Greenblatt cautioned that “Americans should not blame all Muslims for the actions of one individual. Whether citizens like the individual suspected of committing this act or war-torn refugees seeking safety, we must remember that we do not define people by their faith. We are deeply concerned that this attack could lead to a backlash against American Muslims. We urge all Americans to not fight hatred with hatred, but rather to come together around our common values of decency and respect.”
B’nai B’rith International said in a statement that it is “shocked” by the attack, adding: “The sheer number of dead (at least 50) and wounded (at least 53) defies comprehension.” The group said it “stands in solidarity with the LGBT community.”
The Israeli-American Council said in a statement: “On behalf of the Israeli-American community, we condemn this act of terrorism in the strongest terms. Whether terrorism strikes in Brussels, Paris, Tel Aviv, or Orlando – responsible leaders, policymakers, and moral people everywhere have a duty to speak out forcefully against this global evil, and to stand against the hateful ideology that fuels it. This is a growing danger that threatens innocents everywhere.”
The National Council of Jewish Women condemned the mass shooting in a statement released Sunday evening. “We are all wounded by the fear engendered by gun attacks on civilians and by the menace of prejudice that too often endangers individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer and threatens members of the Latino community,” the group’s statement said.
“NCJW is guided by Jewish values, including the Talmudic teaching that for ‘one who takes one life it is as though that person has destroyed the universe, and an individual who saves one life is as though that person has saved the universe.’ We must all renew our efforts to stop the epidemic of gun violence in this country.”
In the News
B'nai B'rith International is the Global Voice of the Jewish Community.
All rights reserved. Stories are attributed to the original copyright holders.